The completion of Montana Children’s Hospital in June 2019 was a welcome and needed addition for rural Kalispell, Mont. Before the hospital opening, the closest pediatric-specific care facility was out of state.

Recognizing the toll out-of-state medical care and costs took on families, Montana Children’s sought to provide access to care close to home with a new 190,000-square-foot facility that includes a 12-bed pediatrics unit, six-bed pediatric intensive care unit, and a 12-bed neonatal intensive care unit with shell space for six additional beds.

Before approaching the site planning and design, HKS, Inc. (Phoenix), which served as architect on the project, constructed full-scale room mock-ups, including infant care, pediatric care, and treatment/surgery, in an adjacent church to allow providers to experience the room layouts and finalize design details before construction began.

The design for Montana Children’s is purposeful and meant to connect and inspire patients, family, staff, and community. Healthcare is emotional and Montana Children’s was envisioned to be an exceptional place of emotion as well, that supports care and healing. The end goal was to design a special place that would be welcoming and responsive to each child and parent and to keep Montana families together. An important major addition to the community, Montana Children’s wanted to create a new vision for the Montana vernacular that would become a point of pride that people wanted to see, even if not patients.

The completed facility features a glass curtain wall that includes vision glass, glass spandrel panels, and pre-engineered stone panels in varying colors that complement the region’s natural palette. A mix of transparent and opaque glass curtain wall of the primary public elevation forms change in height and pattern to reflect as the sun changes positions seasonally.

Inside, the entry lobby is designed to deliver a sense of wonder and imagination to the patient experience with 60 hand-blown fantasy fish suspended above the lobby that follow a lobby stream path floor pattern built from three colors of terrazzo. When the path reaches the main internal connecting corridor, the flooring material becomes sheet vinyl but the pattern continues. If you follow the path, you will reach all major access points. An interactive pond is centered in the floor of the lobby stream path. Visitors can interact with the welcoming bear and her cubs on one corner of the lobby for play, an extension of the Montana Children’s mother and cub brand identity.

Special attention was paid to patient and family spaces throughout the facility, including playrooms located in both the pediatrics and NICU, where families can gather, revive, spend some private time, and talk. Family lounges also located in pediatrics and NICU provide space for respite, meals, work, and even to do laundry; and outdoor play areas, including a large central playground, that accommodate ambulatory and restricted patients, which provide space for respite, meals, work, and even to do laundry; and outdoor play areas, including a large central playground, that accommodate ambulatory and restricted patients.


Project details:

Facility name: Montana Children’s Hospital

Location: Kalispell, Mont.

Completion date:  June 2019

Owner: Kalispell Regional Medical Center

Total building area: 190,000 sq. ft. including two shell floors on the 2nd and 3rd floors/80,000 sq. ft. on the 1st floor is the occupied pediatric space

Total construction cost: $54 million

Architecture firm: HKS, Inc.

Interior design: HKS, Inc. (overall), Four Point Design Partners (patient rooms)

General contractor: Swank Enterprises

Engineering: Jackola (civil), Associated Construction Engineering, Inc. (MEP)