FINALIST – 2019 Healthcare Design Showcase

The University of Kentucky HealthCare Kentucky Children’s Hospital (Lexington, Ky.) features a new, vibrant welcome center and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The new entry reinforces the KCH brand through a sculptural design inviting patrons from the main hospital atrium into the new welcome center. Playful, curved apertures animate the multistory space, changing scale and function throughout for children and adults alike, including a skylight, seating nooks, interior windows, a framed interactive video wall, and an opening through the floor to the ground level lobby.

Adjacent to the new welcome center, the project reimagines how a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can evolve in the future to achieve better patient outcomes. The NICU space was broken down into six neighborhoods of 12 to 14 beds to provide a more personal scale and increase visibility. The staff are able to dedicate themselves to a smaller group of patients to allow better access for collaboration and care. Private respite spaces were included for staff to encourage huddles, support, and learning for the academic institution. Movement through the space is open to enable serendipitous connections between staff and families.

Environmental graphics were utilized to create a sense of place for the hospital and the neighborhoods within the department. These are seen through unique mosaics depicting various species native to Kentucky placed at the entrances of each community and flow throughout the many spaces to support wayfinding and brand identity. Attention was paid to driving as much natural light into the space as possible, through skylights and large-scale windows.

Project category: New construction and remodel/renovation

Chief administrator: Jennifer Christmann, FACHE, formerly director of facilities planning & development, University of Kentucky HealthCare

Firms: HGA,; GBBN,

Design team: HGA (design architect); GBBN (architect of record); Smith Hager Bajo (women and children’s healthcare consultant); Affiliated Engineers Inc. (MEP engineer); THP Limited (structural engineer); Turner Construction (construction manager)

Total building area (sq. ft.): 89,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $500

Total construction cost (excluding land): $44.5 million

Completed: April 2018