This 238-bed, eight-story children’s hospital replaces its former children’s “hospital within a hospital” in Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Designed from a child’s perspective, with the exterior reflecting the character of the interior, the curving glass and granite design take a whimsical approach, softening the hospital’s highly technical capabilities to treat even the sickest children.

Art permeates the architecture, beginning with the exterior children’s lettering and traveling to interior spaces decorated with colorful elements that support the Tennessee nature theme with friendly bugs, amphibians, and animals marching across floors and nurses’ stations. Curving metal ceiling treatment in the “main street” area on the second floor abstractly represents the theme of “ribbons of hope and rivers of healing.” Crayon-like tubes house family areas, cones disguise mechanical elements, and a ribbon-like canopy introduces the entrance. To accommodate the hospital’s family-centered care, family sleep areas, quiet areas, kitchens, and a business center are provided. An 11-story Doctors’ Office Tower is also attached. With tender touches and fantastical elements, the hospital hopes to treat the bodies of sick children in an atmosphere that encourages their spirits.

Photos: Scott McDonald © Hedrich Blessing; Craig Dugan © Hedrich Blessing