Park Nicollet’s renovation of its 40,000-square-foot Family Birth Center on the Methodist Hospital campus in St. Louis Park, Minn., was led by Minneapolis-based AECOM, which provided medical planning, interior architecture and design, and schematic mechanical and electrical engineering for the project. Located on the third floor of the original 1957 cross-plan building and stretching into additions from the ’70s and ’90s, the existing conditions were complicated. The plan was to implement the renovation in phases while remaining in operation and not compromising ongoing care.

Prospective parents touring the birth center are predominantly Millennials (born after 1980), and the center needed to appeal to this key demographic. The design team sought input from such parents on proposed solutions.

In Lean workshops, the Park Nicollet and AECOM project teams developed the initial conceptual plan. Key program elements were located: triage, labor/delivery/recovery (LDR), antepartum, postpartum, special care nursery, and existing c-section rooms. Key touch points were identified: a welcome area, serpentine public entry corridor, concierge station, family lounge, and café.  A multifunctional conference/community room provides space for presentations to prospective parents, education programs, and staff meetings. Staff support spaces include clinician and staff lounges, locker rooms, on-call space, and offices.

The triage/observation area provides four private rooms for maternal assessment. Ten spacious LDR suites, four with water-birth capability, were developed by strategically navigating existing window and column locations. Four new antepartum rooms can swing to become LDRs for optimum flexibility during higher census periods. Existing LDRs were refreshed and repurposed for postpartum use (18 rooms). Full-scale physical mock-ups of each patient room type facilitated communication and decision-making during the design phases.

At postpartum corridors, existing small storage areas were converted to decentralized caregiver stations to allow flexibility to chart within or outside the patient room, enhancing family privacy. Other alcoves off the corridors became small family sitting areas.

A well-baby nursery and procedure room supports the postpartum area. For babies requiring more care, a special-care nursery accommodates families in private and multipatient rooms. Four of the eight private rooms can comfortably accommodate twins and an open pod room has space for five infants.

The tight floor-to-floor height and minimal above-ceiling space of the existing building demanded a creative lighting solution. The design team incorporated “ribbons of light” into corridors and patient areas to provide soft, indirect lighting for a calming impression.

Following 18 months of construction accomplished in five major phases, Park Nicollet opened in March 2014.