The mission behind hospice is both practical and optimistic, and the challenge for any interior designer is to match that mission with a deft touch. For the Bayt Abdullah Children’s Hospice (BACH) in Sulaibikhat, Kuwait, NBBJ was charged with creating just the right tone within a country teeming with wealth and opulent design.

“The families, the children, the doctors—they all want a normal environment, so the children don’t feel like they’re being punished in any way for their illness,” says NBBJ’s Karen Miller, senior interior designer, of the firm’s Columbus, Ohio, office. And the context for “normal” in this vibrant, oil-rich country, says Miller, includes “the most amazing shopping malls, the most amazing everything. Everything you see in Kuwait is brand spanking new and fabulous. We tried our very best to make BACH upbeat and cheerful.”

NBBJ chose to reflect the imagery and common color schemes of the locale, incorporating playful touches and lots of daylight throughout the open-feeling interior. Much thought went into the environmental graphics, which include drawings of native fauna—camels, flamingos, falcons—and are interspersed with water features and fish tanks.

“It’s an incredibly sensitive design solution that’s attentive to every detail in supporting the patient and family through every step ​of their journey,” says IIDA juror Peggy Noakes, American Art Resources. “It’s a total integration of materials, colors, textures, scale, and illumination.”

One of Miller’s favorite aspects of BACH is the ​mother-and-child suites, with a bed for the mother, a crib or bed for the child, and plenty of room to entertain the rest of the family. “The children’s suite is simply beautiful,” agrees juror Amy H. Lopez, Smith Seckman Reid Inc., “with its clean lines, open-space planning, creative headwall, and accent lighting that glows and illuminates the spaces.”

The project was awarded Best in Category for Hospice Care in IIDA’s competition and also earned the honor of being named Best in Competition. Open since January 2012, BACH was a joint venture between Gulf Consult and architect Alia Al-Ghunaim for the design and construction, with NBBJ handling the interior architecture.

“People work from their intellect and from their hearts,” Miller says, “and our team coalesced, with everybody rallying behind the mission of the children. There were only positive, joyful things associated with this. It was career-defining in a lot of ways.”

For a breakdown of all the winning projects in IIDA's Healthcare Interior Design Competition, please see "Winners Announced in IIDA Healthcare Interior Design Competition". To read more on the Best In Category winner for Ambulatory Care Centers, the Brooklyn Infusion Center, please see "An Innovative Approach to Infusion Clinics Sets up Shop in Brooklyn." To read more about The Summit, the Best in Category winner for Senior Living and Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities, please see "The Summit Squashes Traditional Perceptions of Senior Living."