For decades, Akron Children’s construction and renovation projects have been designed “through the eyes of a child” with bright colors, whimsical artwork and other elements that appeal to children and create a welcoming environment for patient families. More recently, projects such as the Kay Jewelers Pavilion and the Considine Professional Building addition have continued to elevate our design with more natural light, improved wayfinding and expansive corridors for easier access.
The next phase is a series of renovation projects on the third floor of our Akron hospital campus to ensure that some of the oldest parts of our facility more fully reflect this child-friendly and family-centered approach to design.
“Portions of our hospital date back to 1926 and have been improved upon or added onto over the years through ongoing renovation and expansion projects,” said Brian Lapolla, vice president of facilities, operations and logistics. “As we evaluated our long-term, master facilities plan, we saw a tremendous opportunity to reimagine some of these dated spaces to bring in more natural light and make them feel welcoming with improved wayfinding, enhanced patient amenities, interactive artwork and wider, taller corridors.”
Brian expects a series of small projects to be completed on the third floor over the next several years with separate timelines and budgets.
“We have a multidisciplinary team of stakeholders, including the teen and parent advisory committees, who will continue to collaborate on these projects,” he said. “We have also completed a comprehensive wayfinding analysis for our entire campus to ensure it is easy and intuitive for patient families to navigate our facilities, such as using digital wayfinding from the Akron Children’s app.”
A new front door
One of the current projects that is nearing completion is a new main entrance on Bowery Street, which will replace the former “Grand Revolver.” The new entry will open on Oct. 25, leading visitors to the third floor Atrium lobby, which will continue to be a central point for accessing the Kay Jewelers Pavilion, main hospital building and Considine Professional Building. This new front door was created as part of the transformation of our Rehabilitative Services department to provide convenient access to rehab patients.
New inclusive playground
Just outside our new front door in Perkins Square Park is a recently opened playground that’s designed to be inclusive, so children of all abilities can play, learn and have fun together. It was made possible by a gift from the hospital’s Women’s Board to provide a place for outdoor therapy sessions with patients and their physical, occupational and speech therapists. Features include wide walkways and ramps for greater accessibility, interactive, ground-level activities with buttons and spinning levers that encourage children to play and explore, and a large communication board to foster interactions between both verbal and non-verbal children.
Our reimagined third floor
A central part of our third-floor renovation is a new spiritual care center that will replace our current chapel. It is located in the former lobby near the Locust Professional Building bridge and will open this fall.
Whereas the current chapel is one large open space, the spiritual care center will be divided into separate sections to better serve diverse patient families and staff. This includes a sanctuary where small services can be held, two private prayer rooms, a study with a multi-faith library and a children’s area.
“Our spiritual care center is intended to be a place of peace and calm, bathed in natural light with design elements that are grounded in nature,” said Matthew Tweddle, MDiv, BCC, director of Chaplaincy Services.
Other projects in the works on the third floor include:
- Creating a new home for Volunteer Services in the previous chapel space
- Renovating public restrooms to make them more modern and provide amenities such as adult changing tables and lactation rooms
- Making the orange elevators more of a destination to improve wayfinding
- Incorporating existing (and necessary) structural columns into the design of a forest trail
- Building a new medical staff lounge near the Roger J. Sherman Auditorium that is much more spacious, flexible, and promotes staff collaboration and wellness with designated meeting, quiet and activity spaces
Future renovation projects
Future phases include a redesigned Family Resource Center, anticipated to be completed in 2024. This will create a focal point on our third floor with a glass storefront and access to needed patient amenities, such as a family library, computers, concierge, consultation space, family support, social workers, librarian and interpreters. In addition, a refresh of Kids’ Café is planned in the coming years to finish the project.
“As we continue to develop construction budgets and timelines for our Akron campus, our focus is enhancing services and amenities that best meet the needs of our patient families and help deliver an outstanding patient experience,” Brian said.