A new home for Mary Bridge Children’s

After more than 30 years of sharing space with MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital is getting a new home. ESa was selected to provide architecture and design services for the new, state-of-the-art facility during the COVID-19 pandemic and has guided the design throughout the life of the project.

Charlie Jorgensen, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Senior Design Manager
Misty Chambers, MSN, RN, Associate AIA, EDAC, Clinical Operations/Design Specialist
Kevin Harney, AIA, NCARB, Principal


The vision for the new Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital is to create a world-class facility that is a beacon for children’s health for the community and aims to deliver the highest value children’s healthcare in the region. Using Lean design and an evidence-based, human-centered approach, we designed spaces that support safety, enhanced care, building efficiency and staff effectiveness. Our goal was to eliminate waste and maximize cross-functional spaces, reducing construction and long-term operational costs, while maximizing the value proposition of the hospital while providing an amazing healthcare experience for patients and staff alike.

Our team concentrated on creating a pediatric-focused medical campus that not only provides better access to care for patients, but also creates opportunities for future growth. The inpatient tower will be accompanied by an ambulatory building and feature components such as private pediatric medical/surgical and intensive care patient rooms; emergency department and behavioral health crisis rooms; operating/endoscopy rooms; hybrid catheterization, electrophysiology and radiology suite; pediatric diagnostic imaging center; cardiology services; helipad; pharmacy and shell space for future expansion. The campus will also include 800 staff and visitor parking spaces.

A pediatric patient’s experience is personal
Keeping safety paramount without burdening families, we purposefully designed this facility to be intuitive, with a focus on simplicity. Because the patient’s ages range from newborn to young adult, the drive behind our design was to create an environment that inspires all ages and includes interactive features that provide positive distractions. With an eye on the future, our design team also focused on creating a seamless experience through technology. For example, introducing technology into retail dining is inspired both by the patient demographic and by the COVID-19 pandemic, in lieu of a traditional cafeteria setting. Through our design, the Mary Bridge staff, patients and visitors will have the opportunity to use the hospital app and order food on the go.

Keeping community at the heart of the design
The 253,000 sf hospital was sited to take advantage of spectacular scenic views of Mount Rainier, Commencement Bay and the Cascade Range while also maximizing precious Pacific Northwest daylight hours into patient rooms, public and staff spaces. One of the main goals of Mary Bridge Children’s leadership was to design a hospital where anyone could envision themselves there, creating a very inclusive environment. The exterior architecture is very much reflective of the community. Our interior designers carried that theme inside the hospital and drew inspiration from the surrounding mountains and waters of Tacoma.

Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital - exterior rendering

Creating purposeful pathways
The vision for the new hospital includes a new arrival process that infuses technology along with human interactions. With a focus on security, access to the building has been thoughtfully designed to minimize access points. Intuitive wayfinding will guide everyone entering the facility through a single security access point for checking-in patients, staff and visitors entering the facility. In an effort to eliminate added stresses for families, the hospital staff will implement new proactive processes with the goal of 90% of patients and visitors completing pre-check-in prior to arrival.

The beauty of designing with an integrated project delivery team during a pandemic
This hospital project was initiated and designed during the COVID-19 pandemic. ESa partnered with Layton | Abbott Construction to pursue the new Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital within an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) model. All components of the RFIT (Request for Integrated Team) process were completed virtually from initial conversations, virtual site walks and project interview workshops. After the project award, the IPD team expanded to include ESa, Layton | Abbott, and WSP as primary team members. With the mantra of ‘one team, one goal,’ we leveraged virtual platforms to complete site investigation, data collection, scheduling, pull planning, lean process workshops, concept design, functional design and detailed design phases in an entirely virtual format. With extensive prior pediatric healthcare experience as a design and construction team, this IPD team immediately adapted to the virtual format to leverage the multi-discipline approach pursing a lean project process, minimizing waste both in process and construction. By reducing waste, maximizing interdisciplinary coordination and continuity of expertise, the project aims to minimize construction conflicts, reduce construction time and cost with the commitment to deliver this project at or below the target cost.

Flexible design within a lean, dense footprint
With the focus on human experience and operational efficiency coupled with the challenges of rising construction costs, it is critical that facilities are designed to maximize each dollar. Our team utilized Lean benchmark data and cross-referenced that information against the specific needs of this children’s hospital, providing informed data to the leadership team to ultimately make final decisions. Originally envisioned as an integrated facility combining pediatric inpatient and ambulatory services, the data-driven approach together with an assessment of trends in medicine as well as collaborative feedback from physicians, staff and community members, led to a shift in the design of the pediatric-focused medical campus. The IPD team identified critical services to be located within the hospital and shifted ambulatory functions previously envisioned within the hospital to a new ambulatory children’s health center. The strategy resulted in a lean, dense hospital footprint with spaces that are designed to be flexible, shared and collaborative. During this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic and historic escalation in material and construction costs, our integrated team has worked together to deliver a design that meets the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital vision.

IPD Team:

  • Owner: MultiCare Health System | Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital
  • Architecture | Medical Planning | Masterplanning | Interiors: ESa
  • Construction: Layton | Abbott Construction
  • MEP Engineering: WSP USA
  • Civil engineering and landscape design: AHBL
  • Structural engineering: Structural Design Group (SDG)
  • Medical Equipment Planning: Hoefer Welker
  • Architecture: TGB Architects

Management Team

  • Project Management: CBRE

Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital - exterior rendering

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