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Children's Pavilion at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Richmond, VA

March 2020
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
Children's Pavilion at VCU, Courtesy of HKS



EBD Goals

To provide an “oasis” for patients and their families with an emphasis on wellness, safety and security while being warm, inviting, and comforting. To build the operating delivery model, partnering with other community providers, focusing on a “full service” outpatient continuum of care across sites (physician office, emergency room, hospital ambulatory, hospital inpatient, home care, community ambulatory care) and across levels of service (primary care management, specialty consultation and treatment and chronic care management).


At the gateway to the VCU Medical Center campus, the Children's Pavilion consolidates existing pediatric clinics into a compact vertical urban pavilion. Adjacent to the city’s most important civic structures, the design establishes an identity that embodies VCU's objective of being the region’s premier pediatric academic medical institution. With an emphasis on physical, visual and abstract connections to nature, the pavilion has a calming, restorative effect to promote healing. The 632,989-square-foot, 15-story pavilion features primary and subspecialty care, outpatient surgical/imaging services, retail space, a resource center, medical student education and clinical research studies.


• Centralization: Outpatient clinics across the campus were centralized into a single location.
• Standardization: The clinic module was standardized to maximize flexibility, daily and long term.
• Cultural shift: In addition to standardizing space, the Pavilion standardized operations.


Nine HKS-designed outpatient clinics were studied to identify areas of achievement, improvement and opportunities to optimize space and operational efficiency during the design phases. Area take-offs were collected, input into the HKS Clinic Intelligence Database and compared across typology and key performance indicators and used as a benchmarking study to inform the design.

Biophilic design was used to enhance the arrival and patient experience. Tree canopy imagery was studied to identify patterns that could replicate the experience of being in a forest on a metal panel screen wall. A parametric model analyzed shapes, allowing for iterative explorations. Utilizing Rhino software, standard modules were organized into a randomized location system to facilitate sending panel cut-files directly to the fabricator and created a codified legend to integrate with the BIM model for documentation and construction.


To understand how the environment supports the vision, guiding principles, goals, healthcare and new operational models, a framework was developed to evaluate the qualitative and quantitative outcomes:

• Analysis of current operating data including key metrics
• Department-specific assessment disseminated to hospital management, staff and physicians
• Interviews of hospital leadership to assess facility impact on organizational goals and outcomes
• Parametric Plan Analysis to assess travel distances, planning efficiencies and visibility
• Environmental Analysis to assess illumination, acoustics, air quality and temperature

Benchmarking Study: While the facility’s split flow clinic module wasn’t as efficient as any of the traditional, singular corridor clinics, the facility proved more efficient than most of the split model clinics surveyed. The exam room was sized right despite the dual entry points due to the use of sliding doors.

Biophilia Design Study: This study is currently collecting post-occupancy data. Patient experience mapping, patient/family surveys, environmental analysis and photo essays may be considered.

POE Study: Listed below are some of the functional performance results from the project:

• 93% patient/family satisfaction with facility
• 44 patient care service lines consolidated into a single location
• Completed 52 days ahead of schedule
• 13 awards for design excellence

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