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The Nephrology Department at Children's Health, Dallas, TX

January 2017
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
Dialysis, Skyline Art Services 2016

Skyline Art Services

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

EBD Goal 

To create an environment that supports repeated engagement and provides opportunities for positive distraction for pediatric patients who repeatedly visit this unit, many for regular kidney dialysis treatment.



A 24,000-square-foot pediatric nephrology department on two floors of a large hospital complex is designed to be a warm, inviting space with positive distractions of artwork depicting animals in nature. The artists were commissioned to provide featured elements within the overall design. In particular, pediatric nephrology patients return to the center often, for treatments that can last for hours at a time. They must be provided with an environment that supports repeated engagement.



An immersive environment must be both visually engaging and durable for busy spaces like waiting areas, corridors, individual patient rooms, and a large common dialysis center. Each time a patient visits the nephrology unit, they should be able to find something new to offer a positive distraction. Additionally, evidence suggests that pediatric patients have very different art preferences depending on their age. A successful installation should appeal to young children as well as adolescents and those entering young adulthood.


Artists were commissioned to create a series of wall murals that were translated from digital scans into printed floor-to-ceiling wall coverings. The artworks feature scenes of nature that are lively and bright to appeal to younger patients. The scenes are also sophisticated and rich with detail for adolescents and young adults to enjoy. Because of the artists’ attention to detail and the reproduction process, the mural images retained the look of their original medium: layered painted paper collages. This medium and style set the standard for the carved animals and other graphic designs in the unit. The animal subjects and habitats also provided casual opportunities for patients to learn fun facts about biology and ecology around the world.

The large dialysis center features 17 separate stations, each with its own designated animal and habitat, corresponding to an alphabetic signage system, starting with A for “Armadillo.” Each has unique features and dimensions. The artists provided vector drawings of a habitat for each animal, integrated with the overall palette and finish specifications. The wall of each station is adorned with a painted animal carved out of a medium-density fireboard wood, creating a dimensional visual highlight for the station. Educational panels in each bay provide information about each animal and its habitat.

The result is a cohesive environment that identifies the nephrology department as a unique place within the hospital system, with visual interest and surprising details that support the patients’ repeated engagement.


To provide the maximum opportunity for positive distraction in a clinic space characterized by repeat visits and long periods of patient immobility, an art program was devised to support repeated patient engagement. Richly detailed wall treatments with layered complexity and surprising details were created to appeal to pediatric patients on each of their visits. The subjects of these murals – animals in their habitats – were done in a style meant to appeal to a wide range of preferences from the various ages and expectations across the patient population.

While research has indicated that pediatric patients prefer different styles of artwork depending on their ages, a descriptive analysis has not been done to identify qualities of visual art that might appeal broadly to a range of ages, including adults who accompany and care for these pediatric patients.

While The Center believes that the information in this resource is valid, it has not fact-checked the information or tested any findings. The Center disclaims any warranties, expressed or implied, regarding this content.