House-Shaped Hospital New ‘Home’ For Children in Valhalla, N.Y.
December 15, 2004

By Staff
Appeared in Real Estate Weekly

As hospitals get more and more specialized, they are seeking to address the specific health and emotional needs of children and their families. An example of how this is being done can be found at the recently completed $85 million, 250,000-square-foot Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital on Woods Road at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y.

One of the primary challenges facing the project team was to find ways to alleviate the stress of hospitalization for children and their families through design solutions. To accomplish this task, the project’s design team, a tri-venture of architects, NBBJ and Lothrop Associates and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life-safety engineer, Syska Hennessy Group of Manhattan, created a distinctly child-friendly environment. For example, the outside of the facility has a very non-institutional look, appearing to be a large house to make children feel at home. In fact, since family, fun and laughter contribute to the recovery process, a small park and a miniature golf course were constructed outside this new “house”.

The child-friendly environment includes a selection of lighting, diffusers and equipment that were designed to appeal to and amuse children. Lighting fixtures were chosen that create a soft nature/home-like ambiance. In addition, lighting and HVAC systems were integrated into the displays that include a 5,000-gallon fish tank in the lobby, an authentic locomotive, the world’s largest doll house, a sports arcade, an actual fire engine cab, a resource center, stage, toy store, and food court.

Located on the facility’s third floor are private rooms for parents. These suites, which have kitchen and dining areas, allow parents to stay overnight in the hospital. These parent suites are part of a built-in Ronald McDonald House.

To address the medical needs of children, this state-of-the-art healthcare facility features an emergency room with three trauma rooms; a Radiology Department that includes an MRI, CT Scan, X-Rays and Radiology Fluoroscopy; three operating rooms; one cardiac operating room; one trauma operating room; two procedure rooms; and the region’s only Level III Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units (ICUs). The Neonatal ICU has 40 beds with six negative pressure isolation rooms. The 18-bed Pediatric ICU has one negative pressure and one positive pressure isolation room. There are also 58 general patient beds and three bone-marrow transplant positive beds with HEPA filters.

Creating a state-of-the-art facility involved a number of critical steps. Syska Hennessy Group was responsible for relocating and enhancing utilities while keeping the existing hospital campus operational. Services such as steam, hot water, electricity and telecommunications to the new building were enhanced. Three 500-ton electric/gas chillers for cooling were designed and installed and 13 air handlers were located out of view by placing them in the attic beneath the peaked roof of the new “house”. A new 115 PSI high pressure steam system was installed that could be stepped down to provide 15 PSI lower pressure for use with sterilizers and the building’s perimeter heating system. Other critical project elements included redundant sources of electricity; a new medical gas system, including a new oxygen farm; and sophisticated life safety and security systems, all of which have been tied into the facility’s building management system.

This all-specialty hospital facility at the Westchester Medical Center represents the wave of the future for comprehensive children’s care. It is now ready to serve the needs of children and their families in all of Hudson Valley, lower Connecticut and northern New Jersey.