For their newest building, Seattle Children’s Hospital reinvented and reorganized how care is delivered within a space – and we partnered to make that impact palpable from the moment you enter the building.
Named Building Care, the facility’s layout and design dramatically changes the way patients and families experience healthcare by starting and ending their journey with ease. It also serves as a new entry point for the entire hospital, setting perspectives and guiding first steps. To visually connect these strategies, we developed a comprehensive wayfinding and artwork program that eases navigation and fosters a sense of wonder, allowing the focus to be on healing instead of logistics for patients and their families.
This visual system integrates cohesively together, utilizing wayfinding, identification zones, and artwork to foster positive interactions and ease navigation – working equally for adults and young children alike. Showcasing this system through prominent design elements and artwork, the building’s main entrance serves as a new orientation zone for patients and families. Clear wayfinding also integrates seamlessly with the entire hospital, which is divided into four nature themed areas: Forest, Mountain, River, Ocean. Zone identification within Building Care uses landmark murals of animals in a forest setting, solidifying the building’s place in the Forest zone for any age group.
We developed a comprehensive wayfinding and artwork program that eases navigation and fosters a sense of wonder, allowing the focus to be on healing instead of logistics for patients and their families.
The front entrance is also home to the facility’s Story Pole; an art installation by Shaun “Qwalsius” Peterson. Drawing from the hospital’s setting and the Forest zone theme, it incorporates animals with meaning tied to local indigenous stories that parallel the same themes of care behind Seattle Children’s values.
Art and science continue working together for the building’s wayfinding system. Integrated into the reception desk, a 3D diorama of the zone system can be used by the receptionist to introduce the names of each zone, the location of the elevators, and show how the Discovery Trail – a pathway that connects all of the zones through the hospital from one end to the other – helps them find their way.
This interactive diorama is illustrated in the same playful style as the murals throughout the building, serving as a positive distraction element that allows parents to focus on the check-in process while children engage and learn about the zones. Just past reception, an interactive Discovery Trail map guides visitors in more detail, starting in the Forest zone and connecting seamlessly to existing services throughout the rest of the hospital.
Artwork itself is an integral part of the Seattle Children’s environment. Every piece of art within the building was created to spark moments of surprise and discovery, each speaking to the values of caregiving, family, and connection.
Every piece of art within the building was created to spark moments of surprise and discovery, each speaking to the values of caregiving, family, and connection.
Art portals can be found on walls and columns throughout Building Care, each expressing family-oriented scenes of the region’s flora and fauna. Portal scenes include animal pairs sharing and giving care to one another, further reinforcing ideas of collaborative care and kindness. These pieces, alongside the Story Pole, provide a welcoming connection to the creative stories found across the rest of the hospital.
Together, this visual system transcends age to facilitate a positive experience. Wayfinding eases navigation and fosters a sense of welcoming, and art comforts and affirms Seattle Children’s approach to care. When patients and their families can easily navigate the facility and feel confident and rooted along their journey, their focus is on healing and wellness – and that’s exactly the front-door welcome Building Care was designed to give.
Published on 11 October 2022