Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
Creative Work with Very Special Considerations
In 2012 I was asked to be part of a team that developed art installations, wayfinding and other playful distractions for the new Lurie Children's Hospital. Our main focus was the 21st floor of the hospital that provided acute care for children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders. Because of the these patient's fragile immune systems they couldn't venture off to the playrooms in other parts of the hospital. Additionally, these kids could be in and out of the hospital for treatments for days at a time. The hospital staff referred to them as "frequent flyers" and wanted to provide a safe but stimulating environment for them.
Understanding the Users of This Space
Some of my first steps for this project included meeting with the nurses, doctors and other staff that worked at Lurie Children's with this particular patient population. Parents and young patients were also represented- we worked with the hospital's project manager to understand the floorplan and the physical restrictions we had. Then we began exploring themes that could give enough breadth to the work while providing unity in the space.
For the 21st floor we settled on the theme The Secret Life of Birds. Installations included intricate dioramas built into the walls and nurses' stations at children's eye level. Artwork was enclosed in panels that allowed the surfaces to be disinfected, keeping the floor sterile and safe. Patients are encouraged to explore the hallways and discover scenes in the walls- staff often use the scenes to prompt storytelling and help with wayfinding on the floor.