Chris and I have been working on remodeling our house, well, since we bought it four or five years ago. Built in 1905, the house had some incredible details that we loved, a huge well landscaped yard that connects to a section of woods, and neighbors who are close enough but not too close. There were some things (like fuzzy wallpaper in the hallway) that we knew we would change from the first time we saw it.
January 21, 2013 we attended the town hall to see how progress was coming on the new critical care tower. While the huge project seems in no way comparable to our room-by-room house remodeling, I was surprised to find that a lot of the things we’ve discussed and debated (some of them for years!) were also being looked at during the meeting.
The architects who presented the project showed the group how they worked to bring elements of childhood into the spaces they designed. Since this was the first time Chris and I had a chance to participate in a town hall, we were seeing a lot of the elements for the first time. I was immediately struck by the exciting names of the color palettes. Sitting on a table in front of us were four boxes containing elements that are being considered for some of the floors, and each of them seemed exciting and interesting. Backyard, puddles, sandbox, and treehouse immediately invoke safe, secure, and yet explorative images of childhood…exactly what those designing a children’s hospital should long to create.
I was also amazed at the way every detail is being thought through, from elements that will tie every floor together, to the use of wayfinding symbols (important when you’re a kid who can’t read–children are meant to feel in charge and at home here, or you’re an adult in a hurry and don’t have time to scan through a myriad of signs!), to the placement of things like vending machines. It’s a big and exciting undertaking, and it’s one that isn’t being taken lightly from beginning to end.
Much like Chris and I are doing in trying to restore some of the original charm to our old farmhouse while still bringing it into the modern era (it did at least come with electricity and indoor plumbing!), those who are working on the new addition to the hospital are striving to bring the newest, most exciting things in medicine to Akron while still keeping the child-centered history of excellence in the forefront…although we do have one thing ahead of those working on the hospital project going for us–we have a 20 pound helper available at all times here at our house!