The idea: During the renovation of an interior dining room at Florida Hospital Altamonte in Altamonte Springs, Fla., an idea to increase dining capacity by extending the project outside was born.

The existing outdoor dining area began as a covered smoking shelter next to the main service drive. Visitors felt the space reflected poorly on the facility overall and didn’t inspire confidence in the healthcare services provided there.

The facility wanted a space where visitors and staff could gather, eat, talk, and relax to re-energize the mind, body, and spirit. However, there were limited funds allocated to the project, so it took a little creativity to find a way to accomplish the additional exterior goals.


How they did it: The hospital embarked on an employee-based capital campaign to raise funds specifically for the outdoor component, to create a dining space that would reflect a new image and aesthetic.

Required updates included expanding seating to provide an upscale experience in an “open market” setting. The design team toured several resorts in Central Florida to understand how nature elements play a role in creating an overall experience.


The big reveal: The resulting 11,140-square-foot, renovated Uptown Café offers indoor and outdoor dining. The exterior space incorporates lush landscaping and sculptural elements to create a hidden oasis that’s charming and visually appealing. A garden wall was built around the space to block views of and noise created by the nearby service drive and engineering systems.

The move also benefitted the interior dining space by creating a pleasant view. Much like the facility’s interior dining space, special attention was paid to the integration of color, form, and texture by using manmade materials to mimic curvilinear shapes found in nature. Colored stains are used on ground surfaces to accentuate natural shapes and convey elements of sand, rock, and water flow. Sculpted tree and plant forms integrate with the natural landscape while providing shelter from the sun.

Considered the focal point of the overall interior and exterior design, this outdoor space offers a peaceful and inviting environment for patients, visitors, and staff. 

  • Completion date: October 2011
  • Owner: Florida Hospital Altamonte
  • Architecture: RLF
  • Construction: LWP Construction Service
  • Photography: Taylor Architectural Photography
  • Total building area (gross square feet): 11,418
  • Total construction cost: $1.8 million

Do you have a space that's been transformed? Send before and after photos, and a brief project description, to Jennifer Kovacs Silvis at