A Life-Changing Outpatient Children’s Pavilion at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU

To meet the growing need for outpatient services for children in the community, the 643,000-square-foot Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s Pavilion celebrates its opening today.

Designed by HKS, the 15-story, high-tech ambulatory pavilion — built on East Broad Street between 10th and 11th streets — consolidates existing pediatric clinics into a vertical urban pavilion. The most advanced outpatient facility dedicated to children in the region, the pavilion includes a surgery level, three levels of pediatric clinics, a faculty/research floor and seven levels of parking.

Street-level viewers can gaze upward to see trees gracing the sky garden’s edges. Visitors enter a three-story atrium graced with a dramatic connecting stair on the second level that connects to clinic floor above.

HKS principal Leslie Hanson, AIA, “Each step in the patient and family experience was designed to be enjoyable, welcoming and engaging. The sky terrace — located off the sky lobby — is a truly unique space in the city, bringing nature to the heart of the urban campus and providing views of Richmond’s historic City Hall and, beyond that, the Virginia state Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson.”

On the Sky Terrace, interactive sculptures allow the kids to play music. Outdoor benches and seating areas — surrounded by native trees, indigenous plants and soothing chimes — allow patients, families and staff members a quiet space in the middle of the urban city.

An elevated Sky Lobby connects to the expansive outdoor Sky Terrace equipped with an interactive play area. This area — as well as interactive art and sculptures — provides positive distractions for children and families. Kids can interact with a scene projected on the floor in the sky lobby as well as on the feature walls on levels 2, 3 and 4. A Sibling Center, located in the Sky Lobby area, provides supervised activities and games for kids waiting for their siblings in the clinic areas.

The new Pavilion includes diagnostic and treatment services for children, bringing together the majority of outpatient pediatric services currently on the downtown VCU Medical Center Campus to one location. Medical student education and clinical research studies will also be included at the facility. It contains three levels of pediatric care clinics to include seven specialty clinic pods, each with 12 exam rooms, a treatment room, support spaces and a nurse work core.

The central work core enhances collaboration between nurses and physicians, resulting in a coordinated caregiver approach. Rather than embedding diagnostics into each specialty clinic, further efficiency is gained through shared diagnostics per clinical floor. In addition, an entire floor is dedicated to housing faculty offices, a conference center and meeting spaces to further enhance collaboration between staff members.

“The Pavilion’s exceptional location on Broad Street offers a unique opportunity for VCU Health to enhance their image and brand,” said HKS senior designer Greg Luongo. “As the gateway to the medical campus, the site affords great visibility and acts as a visual landmark to those approaching the campus. The pavilion’s adjacency to the city’s most important civic structures reinforces the need to establish a signature identity for this facility, drawing inspiration from the James River’s natural environment.”

Concepts for the overarching design, as well as detailed finishes, originate from Richmond’s waterways, lush gardens and wooded land. The glass curtain wall reflects the sky and is illuminated in the sunlight, alluding to the reflective qualities of the adjacent James River. Stepped planters with native vegetation and brick-and-stone pavers mimic the river’s edge. Materials, colors and patterns found in nature are brought into the pavilion, blurring the lines between interior and exterior architecture. Inside, a tile walkway creates a meandering path leading to key welcoming areas. Reflective glass used at strategic points throughout the building provides wayfinding cues for patients and visitors. Symbolic gestures to nature include natural groves, stepping stones and tree canopies incorporated in the tile flooring, wood ceilings and feature walls.

The entire parking experience at the facility is hospitality-oriented, with space provided for valet and self-parking. The seven-level, 600-car garage is positioned beneath the Pavilion, with four floors of parking below grade and three floors above grade. A decorative screen allows dappled light to filter into the top three floors of the garage giving the parking area a tranquil ambience, while serving the dual purpose of shielding the view of the parking garage from the street.

“Designed with future expansion in mind, the building can accommodate additional clinic pods and operating rooms as demand for these services increases,” Luongo said.

VCU Health is seeking LEED Silver certification for the project from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Children’s Pavilion has been referred to as an oasis for children,” said Robert Reardon, chief facilities officer at VCU Health. “In the center of a very dense urban environment, the design of the building and the support operations such as parking and wayfinding is truly an oasis where the focus is on the patient, the patient’s family and the elimination of stressors associated with facilities in an urban environment.”