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Creating a Functional, Award Winning Pediatric Center of Excellence in 22 Months

When Georgia-based Hamilton Health Care System embarked on creating the Anna Shaw Children’s Institute, a specialized, outpatient behavioral health center for children, they already had a donor on board. The catch was that the highly specialized, complex structure needed to be completed within a compressed 22-month timeframe—from site selection to opening for patients. In addition to the tight turnaround, the steep, heavily forested site in itself presented challenges. The ESa design team arrived at a treehouse-themed concept that conformed with the site, while still promoting elements of play, childlike scale and imagery in an appropriate sensory experience.
The building’s three floors represent levels typically seen in a forest: forest floor, understory layer and canopy layer. The sloping site provided an opportunity to create two dedicated entrances to serve patient populations. The north main entrance on the second level, serving patients who have frequent visits for various therapies, features a 40-foot tree replica on axis with an existing historic tree on the site. The south’s first level entrance, utilizing calming brown tones, is for children on the autism spectrum or have other behavioral health diagnoses.