A place of rehabilitation and respite in downtown Seattle, the Harborview Medical Center Pediatric Burn Unit provides critical care to children who have suffered life-altering injuries and require extensive treatment.
Our approach was to design an environment of holistic healing; spaces not only dedicated to the physical rehabilitation of the patients, but also to focus on mental health. Renovation efforts were concentrated on an existing playroom and therapy room, entry corridor, and staff break room. With active involvement from HMC’s medical team, we created immersive spaces that are simultaneously healing, encouraging, engaging, and welcoming.
Vibrant, dynamic murals painted by local artist Rosie Alyea of Wide Eyed wrap around the entry and into the playroom. Approachable illustrated creatures and landmarks native to the Pacific Northwest—including the Seattle ferry and seaplane—are sprinkled throughout mountains, ocean, and forests to encourage “eye-spy” interactions for patients, who will always discover something new. Next to the mural, floor to ceiling windows frame a view of Elliott Bay and Smith Tower. Colorful and playful elements continue in the therapy room, which features an interactive wall and custom floor that doubles as a positive therapy tool. By using the organic forms created with the colored floor patterns as treatment progress benchmarks (instead of conventional measurements), staff can create child-friendly games that promote movement and rehabilitation.
For security, all areas of the Playroom must be fully visible. Different spaces were defined through the concept of transparent zones that serve various activity levels. These distinctions give patients an important sense of control—they can choose to be in zones for solo contemplation, making art, or playing group games. TV screens, partial walls, alcoves, and unique casework create zones for private therapy, digital activities, or inspiring movement without totally hindering visibility. The zones also delineate places where staff can step away to rejuvenate, whether that means eating, changing, or resting. Café style seating outside the breakroom highlights Elliot Bay views.
HMC is the only designated Level One adult and pediatric trauma center and American Burn Association verified burn center in Washington. It also serves as the regional trauma and burn referral center for Alaska, Montana, and Idaho, as well as the disaster preparedness and disaster control hospital for King County. Because of this major responsibility, it was crucial to maintain high infection control requirements and sensitivity to continuously occupied patient rooms. We collaborated with our construction partner, Skanska, and our client, HMC, to keep the site safe, clean, and minimally disruptive.
Backed by our firm’s deep experience in medical planning and designing therapy spaces, we created highly functional, dynamic environments for Burn Unit patients, visitors, and staff. It is no exaggeration to say this place will heal and change lives.