Last week Seunghwan Lee gave the Young Designer’s Core (YDC) a tour of the new addition (Binney Building) to Boston Children’s Hospital. The project has been five years in the making and is currently still under construction.
Throughout my healthcare design experience I have always enjoyed seeing a hospital with a courtyard, whether it is for staff respite or a healing garden for patients. I was particularly delighted to see the thoughtful and unique courtyard solution that is a part of the renovation. The new building was designed to wrap the older building and the courtyard sits between the two, like a breath of fresh air. In addition, light pours into the (mostly patient) rooms adjacent to the space above the courtyard and penetrates through to the corridor for four floors.
A number of articles have been written in recent years discussing the positive effects of nature and light on stress level and the healing process. In “Health Benefit of Gardens in Hospitals” Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D. writes that “several studies have converged in indicating that simply viewing certain types of nature and garden scenes significantly ameliorates stress within only five minutes or less.” He continues by stating that “research has found that viewing nature for longer periods not only helps to calm patients, but can also foster improvement in clinical outcomes – such as reducing pain medication intake and shortening hospital stays.” The new courtyard at Boston Children’s Hospital provides light and views not only for the interior patient rooms of the new building, but also for the older building, which previously only had views of the crowded street. The courtyard is also accessible to bone marrow transplant patients, family and staff and offers a place of respite, apart from the patient room.
In my previous healthcare project experience, patient access to outdoor space was always an important aspect to the teams and clients. As many of these projects were on the West Coast, the spaces tended to house seasonally static landscapes. I am curious to see the seasonal change that the climate of New England brings to the Boston Children’s Hospital courtyard. It will be interesting to watch the use patterns and patient response to this particular feature. My hope is that it will encourage healing and rest for the many children and their families that will use the hospital.
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