Case Study

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital A Flagship Children’s Hospital That Reflects Louisiana Nature

Baton Rouge, LA

The Challenge

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System enlisted HKS to design the first stand-alone children’s hospital in Louisiana in 40 years. Working with a modest budget, the design team sought to give the hospital an iconic look to anchor the client’s statewide pediatric network and the space to accommodate future growth.

The Design Solution

HKS designers met with hospital staff and families to determine the ideal flow through the facility and identify the amenities that are important to them. The design team used Louisiana’s natural scenery as inspiration to create an environment that would enchant young patients and ease them into treatment.

Sunlight spills through colored glass into the lobby, where the welcome desk sits against a backdrop of perforated wooden panels that give the illusion of glistening water. The main concourse depicts the Mississippi River and is lined with sculpted benches that evoke flowing water and that mirror the blue waves painted on the wall. Circular seating niches tucked into the concourse offer spaces to read or play.

The design team modeled the hospital’s main areas after Louisiana’s diverse ecosystems, from its piney woods to its bayous and coastlines. Each area has its own color palette and artwork featuring “animal ambassadors” from the ecosystem. The creatures — such as Max the Beaver in the intensive care unit or Sheila Rose the Spoonbill in the oncology unit — guide patients and their families through the hospital and teach them about Louisiana nature.

The landscapes and critters come to life through intentional design that combines playful illustrations, carved wood wall features, etched glass and decorative glass film. Designers incorporated other whimsical touches to sprinkle moments of joy and positive distraction along the patient journey, such as nooks with built-in seating in vibrant colors set against a complementing watercolor background. HKS selected a spectrum of durable materials that were deployed strategically in the areas where they would have the most impact.

The exterior architecture of the children’s hospital echoes the style of the client’s Baton Rouge hospital campus while projecting its own distinct look, with an eye-catching façade that recalls stained glass windows.

The Design Impact

The new hospital provides advanced pediatric care and specialized programming for patients across Louisiana, as well as children from Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas. The emergency department alone is expected to draw more than 35,000 patients a year.

Officials said the facility also attracts pediatric specialists and other medical staff. Some pediatric nurses who had left the Baton Rouge area returned for the opportunity to work at the new hospital, according to a news report citing Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health.


Project Features

  • 372,842 square foot (34,640 sm) hospital
  • Emergency department
  • Surgical suite with five operating rooms
  • 30-bed intensive care unit
  • 40 medical/surgical inpatient beds
  • Hematology/oncology floor with 12 inpatient specialized beds
  • Playroom in every floor
  • Garden with boardwalk, sensory space and pavilion
  • One of eight St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate clinics in the U.S.

No detail was overlooked when designing this beacon of hope and healing for all of Louisiana’s children.

president of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health