New Children's Hospital design wins praise

Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board lauds and approves proposed design for expanded Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

After more than two years of public hearings and design tweaks, an ambitious proposal to renovate and expand the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital cleared a major hurdle last week when Palo Alto's Architectural Review Board enthusiastically backed the project.

The plan for the children's hospital is a major part of Stanford University Medical Center's $3.5 billion expansion of its hospital facilities in Palo Alto. "Project Renewal" -- which also includes demolition of the existing Stanford Hospital & Clinics building, construction of a new hospital and renovations to Stanford School of Medicine buildings -- would bring about 1.3 million square feet of new development to Palo Alto. (View animated "flythrough")

Though the city and the hospitals are still negotiating the final conditions of approval, the marathon project hit a major milestone on Thursday (March 24) morning, when the board voted 4-0, with Grace Lee abstaining, to approve the proposed design for the children's hospital. The approval came after seven meetings spanning about two-and-a-half years and a multitude of adjustments to the building's design.

The board's approval is also crucial because of Stanford's ongoing effort to get the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project certified -- a necessary step toward getting state environmental clearance. The Environmental Impact Report concluded that the new buildings could have "significant" impacts on the area's visual quality, including degradation of the site's physical character and creation new sources of glare.

By approving the design, the board effectively reduced these impacts to a "less than significant" level. Board member Judith Wasserman argued that the new buildings would actually improve the the surrounding area.

"We're taking down two tacky old buildings, and we're putting up a really excellent hospital," Wasserman said.

Her colleagues agreed. Board member Alex Lew called the project "very exemplary" and called its integration of architecture into landscape "amazing." His colleague Heather Young also thanked the architecture team for integrating the board's comments into the final design.

"It's hard not to say really positive, wonderful things about this project and, frankly, the process," Young told architects from the firm Perkins+Will.

The new children's hospital would feature "healing gardens" for patients and their families, expanded waiting room for families and 104 new patient beds.

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Posted by SupportCare&Health
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Glad that the pediatric hospital is getting improved, but the main Stanford facility is CRITICAL to our health care as well!! Both LPCH and STANFORD Hospitals are so necessary for our near and far patients that depend on excellent care and innovative care. PLEASE support both hospitals and their needs. Someday, you might really need their excellent care.

Like this comment
Posted by concernata
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm

It should be well noted by the residents of Palo Alto that there are no plans to build more private rooms for maternity services in the new hospital plans. Although the new children's hospital will boast state of the art, evidenced based recommended private rooms for the children, the postpartum patient will continue to share a room and bathroom with another patient.

The lack of private rooms for postpartum patients is the single most reported patient complaint. The new hospital will not meet the needs of the Palo Alto community patient who desires to delivery their baby at their local community hospital and have a private postpartum room.

Palo Alto residents desiring a private postpartum maternity room must choose to go to obstetricians who practice at El Camino Hospital and Sequoia which have nursery services provided by LPCH, thus providing the patient the security of excellent newborn nursing care and a private postpartum room.

It is sad that the unit that is often the first hospital experience for many Palo Altans is not slated to enjoy improvements of the hospital rebuild.

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