A Clear Identity for a Children's Hospital
Making identity visible for a children’s hospital within a medical campus

typical patient room
The typical patient room adapts to accommodate the more medically intensive PICU / PIMCU environment without compromising the patient/family experience.

Patient room floor plan highlighting color scheme and floor pattern 

nature wall
An interactive series of glass murals connect the entry lobby with the dining area and outdoor Children’s courtyard. The wall incorporates child-controlled components such as colorful “lightsticks” and “knot-holes” showing custom nature videos.


reduction in energy usage compared with a typical hospital; equivalent to the annual energy usage of 432 northeastern homes

Reduction in water usage over code requirements; equivalent to the annual water usage of 14,435 bathtubs

of construction waste was diverted from landfill

of building materials is recycled content


Penn State Hershey
Children's Hospital

Hershey, PA / United States


252,000 GSF

Children’s Hospital

LEED-NC 2.2 Registered

The opening of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital marked the completion of a ten-year transformation of the Hershey Medical Center campus. With the new five story facility, the institution expanded and consolidated its services — integrating 72 inpatient beds, six operating suites with associated pre- and post-operative care areas, a pharmacy and clinical labs serving the whole medical campus, and an outpatient hematology/oncology clinic — into a freestanding, signature building. The project also included a significant expansion and renovation of the Medical Center’s Radiology Department and support service platforms.

Located within an existing academic medical campus, the new hospital needed to reflect Penn State Hershey’s institutional vision of cultivating a warm, open care-giving environment focused on optimal patient experience. At the same time, the new building had to create an identity and brand for the Children’s Hospital as a unique entity within the larger Penn State Hershey system.

A refined spatial strategy and the integration of nature guided the design of the Children Hospital. The spatial strategy choreographs the way a patient or a family travel through and experience the spaces. The first floor emphasizes movement, providing a major path that engages the most public programmatic elements. The upper levels offer a more prescribed path, much like a river that courses through the patient floors. Here the corridors are designed as an extension of the patient rooms, with a curvilinear river-like network of paths and eddies ending at the dramatic waterfall gathering area. All patient rooms are private and employ a standard layout, which will allow them to be repurposed in the future, with minimal or no renovation, to accommodate different levels of acuity.

Throughout the hospital, views to the courtyards and gardens make the surrounding landscape an ever-present part of the indoor experience. Along with the introduction of natural light, this emphasis on views animates the interior environment and improves orientation through clearer wayfinding.

Inside the hospital, a rich palette of shapes, colors and materials communicates the theme of Healing with Nature, identifying the building as a place for children and families. The Healing with Nature concept further pervades the building through the use of developmentally tailored spaces and interactive elements. For example, the toddler room engages young children with bubble tubes, while the teen room offers a place for lounging. The first-floor corridor’s nature wall – a panelized glass system that features an interactive A/V component displaying animal life and nature patterns – captures everyone’s attention, creating an entertaining and welcoming environment for all ages.

Photography: © Warren Jagger Photography

Kevin B. Sullivan, FAIA

Leon W. Drachman, AIA, LEED Green Assoc.
Design Principal

Scott D. Parker, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager

Ching-Hua Ho
Project Designer