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El Paso Children's Hospital, El Paso, TX

September 2012
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
CAMA, Inc. + KMD Architects

CAMA, Inc. + KMD Architects

Firm's role on the project:  Planning, Programming, Architecture, Design, Interiors 

EBD Goal

To establish the first separately licensed children’s hospital in the community of El Paso, Texas with an interior environment that is patient-centered, family focused, community accessible, culturally compatible and a magnet for the recruitment of pediatric medical staff.  CAMA|KMD considered the building “through the eyes of a child” and while the final design addresses a number of outcomes, a primary goal was to create whimsical spaces influenced by research to delight the senses and thus reduce anxiety.


Little baseline evidence was available during the design stage of this project. The design team utilized the literature review “Evidence for Innovation: Transforming Children’s Health through the Physical Environment” published by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions in collaboration with The Center for Health Design.

As the budget was continuously monitored by an independent project manager, several features were value-engineered out of the base project during various phases of the project and relegated to the fund raising efforts of the Foundation.


In the high desert of El Paso, Texas brownness lingers in the horizon until the sunsets and spring blooms in full living color. It is in the extreme color spectrum of nature that this project finds its voice much as the native Indians, the Spanish Conquistadors, and American cowboy did years before CAMA came to El Paso. The ethnic forces that shape the region historically and currently allowed for the development of a palette of colors and vocabulary of imagery that served to imbue resonance and richness into the application of a budget driven project. This spirited backdrop of modest materials became the ideal setting for an art program gleaned predominantly from local and regional artists.

Additionally several outcomes were addressed:

  • Reduced spread of infection - private rooms, hand washing sinks in every room
  • Reduced medical error - standardization of patient room
  • Increased social support - space for families in all patient rooms and on all units, overnight accommodations for two
  • Increased patient and family satisfaction - patient and family control over privacy and environmental conditions
  • Age appropriate play areas
  • Access to natural light
  • Reduced anxiety – family destinations, positive distractions
  • Spatial orientation - effective way finding landmarks such as significant works of art or interior design features. 

A unique canopy of illuminated stars at the footwall of the patient room, pictured, creates an immersive focal point noted in the literature as a positive distraction in order to reduce feelings of pain, and like the first floor enchanted forest, the more immersive the environment, the greater the pain reduction.