For many years, sick children in San Antonio and the surrounding region had limited access to innovative, specialized health care. Without a hospital dedicated to the unique needs of pediatric patients, families often faced a paralyzing decision: compromise the quality of their child’s care or transplant to a city with the resources they needed. Christus Santa Rosa wanted to change that by converting their downtown hospital to a world class facility, the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
When a child is sick, especially when they are chronically so, desperate parents often find their lives drained of emotional and financial resources. Weeks spent in dreary hospital corridors, batteries of expensive tests, days without seeing trees and grass, and extended leave from jobs all take a toll on a family during one of the most frightening and vulnerable times of their lives.
The Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word wanted to create a ministry that would speak to the needs of pediatric health care in San Antonio’s most underserved communities. They would continue their faith-based, nonprofit mission as they had for almost 150 years, but they wanted to do so in a space that communicated hope, renewal, and a commitment to quality care. WHR of Houston would handle the interior renovation, creating the kind of medical facility that would attract top physicians and specialists. Overland served as exterior architect, tasked with broadcasting this new hope to the community.
Converting an aging traditional hospital into a world-class children’s hospital without losing a day of function was no small feat. Throughout the entire construction process the emergency room, ICU, NICU, and other specialized facilities had to remain operational. With minimal disruption to the inner workings of the Children’s Hospital, Overland confronted a patchwork façade of exteriors from the 1950s and every subsequent era. The bright spot on the otherwise foreboding urban skin was a mosaic mural by local artist Jesse Treviño. Overland used this iconic mural, visible throughout downtown, to inform the exterior transformation.
Playing off of the colors in the mural, the design uses windows and illuminated colored panels to brighten the exterior. At night these glass panels are illuminated with high-efficiency LED fixtures, showcasing a canvas of color that communicates the hope the spirit of hope and support families will find inside.
Originally, the budget for aesthetic improvements was sparse, with most allocations going toward mission-critical refurbishment of the interior. However, the vision soon proved so inspiring that many private philanthropists came forward to participate.
Redesign of the lobby was not included in the original budget, but a donor wanted to extend the atmosphere of healing to the space where families spend anxious minutes waiting to see the doctors. The Goldsbury Foundation funded a series of gardens, including a kitchen garden and a meditation garden. These spaces provide much-needed respite for families and exposure to green space, which studies have shown to have a positive effect on the healing process. The kitchen garden will provide fresh, quality ingredients for the hospital’s food service. Redesigned green spaces also open up the exterior of the building to Milam Park, making the hospital feel more inviting and integrated with the city. The renovations have spurred development of better sidewalks, with trees and lighting.
The Children’s Hospital immediately began to attract the kind of partnerships the client had hoped it would. Baylor Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have partnered with the facility, and the children of San Antonio have already begun to reap the benefits. The mission of the Children’s Hospital, to “provide care for the sickest children regardless of their families’ ability to pay,” plays an important role extending the benefits of development and innovation to all.
- Chicago Athenaeum, Good Design – Building Products 2016
- Centro San Antonio Best of Awards, Best Work in Progress 2015
- Healthcare Design, “Modern Age: The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio,” March 2017
- Health Facilities Management, “Hospital’s Design Puts Children First,” December 2016
- The Architect’s Newspaper, “A First for Multi-Colored Ceramic Fritted Channel Glass,” October 2016
- Glass Magazine, “Great Glazing: The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio,” October 2016
- PR Web, “Bendheim Channel Glass Enlivens Children’s Hospital Facade with Color and Light,” September 2016
- San Antonio Express-News, “Children’s Hospital Long Has Cared for SA Kids,” August 2015
- The Rivard Report, “How the Children’s Hospital is Revolutionizing Health Care with Food,” July 2015
- The Rivard Report, “Children’s Hospital a Beacon of Light and Hope,” July 2015
- San Antonio Express-News, “Children’s Hospital Gets Big Booster Shot,” April 2015
- San Antonio Express-News, “San Antonio Making Transformation to Children’s Hospital,” January 2015
- The Rivard Report, “Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Designed with Family in Mind,” October 2014
- San Antonio Express-News, “Children’s Hospital of SA invests in Nutrition,” June 2014
Visit the official site for The Childrens Hospital of San Antonio Website
IN ASSOCIATION WITH WHR