Designed to diagnose and treat children with autism spectrum, attention deﬁcit and other complex developmental disorders, the new three-story Anna Shaw Children’s Institute is one of the ﬁrst facilities of its kind in the nation. The main goal for the “treehouse” themed design is to create a leading edge healthcare campus at which children feel comfortable enough to imagine, explore and interact with nature.
Located on the Hamilton Medical Center campus, this freestanding specialty pediatric outpatient center is inspired by the surrounding heavily wooded site. Oriented at a 75-degree angle to limit sun exposure, the building includes a three-story lobby designed on axis with a 40’ oak tree located at the base of the site. Throughout the building, the use of wood, stone materials and key architectural features encourage connection to the natural landscape and bring the outside inside.
The campus design strongly focuses on best practices, lean attributes and evidence based design principles. With a dedicated entry for behavioral health program components, the ﬁrst ﬂoor includes clinics focused on behavioral health and developmental pediatrics and a classroom suite with after-hours access to accommodate support group events and education programs. The main entry, located on the second ﬂoor, provides access to a therapy clinic (physical, occupational, speech and feeding) and physical therapy and sensory integration gyms. The second ﬂoor also offers convenient access to administrative areas for family support services, public lobby and café amenities. The third ﬂoor features a sub-specialty clinic and shell space for future growth.
The use of exterior portal elements mimic the holes in the ﬂoor or roof of a treehouse through which the tree grows, while interior skylights also incorporate similar portal elements. Window portals, installed at varying heights, allow children to peer into the lobby from clinic spaces. A series of three whimsical tree structures, designed with birdhouses and interactive play features, span the height of three-story lobby.