New Kid on the Block
Like a mirage rising out of the Katy Prairie, scores of rainbow-hued circles pop all over the new building of the Texas Children's Hospital West Campus. Located at Barker Cypress and I-10, the hospital's opening Monday marks a turning point for health care on the city's west side, serving the swath of rapidly expanding subdivisions between Sugar Land and Bryan-College Station.
The 55-acre property was purchased from the The Wolff Company, which donated 10 of the acres, earning the namesake of the lavender-tinged David and Mary Wolff Emergency Center. What visitors to the new campus will find is a roomy (515,007-square-foot) hospital with two operating rooms, 48 intermediate and acute-care patient beds, a neuropsychology sleep lab, a pathology lab, a full-scale pharmacy and the only 24/7 pediatric emergency room in the Greater West Houston area.
The high tech accoutrements have been rendered kid friendly. For example, the CTC scan station has images of tropical fauna projected on its surface in an effort to calm and entertain children during a potentially stressful procedure. An operation simulation room will help reduce anxiety for young patients by allowing them to see, touch and talk about the equipment and treatment steps of their upcoming procedure in a non-threatening environment.
The hospital bypassed the unfortunate reputation of hospital cafeterias by commissioning Luby's to present a fresh array of healthy food.
Architecture firm PageSoutherlandPage and Tellepsen Builders were quite creative in inserting a humane aspect to the building's design, as evidenced in aquarium-enveloped waiting rooms, fold-out day beds for family members who stay overnight and a warm wood-toned non- denominational chapel with towering stripes of colorful circle-punctuated glass. On-site playgrounds (partially covered to protect from harsh summer heat) and a reading room also make the hospital comfortable for patients and visitors alike.
"Volunteers will be here to read stories to toddlers," says Michelle Riley-Brown, vice president of Texas Children's Hospital West Campus. The local community has also been taken into consideration, as illustrated by hallways cum art galleries lined with artwork by students in west side school districts.
The new Texas Children's literally feels a world away from the hospital's original quarters in the Texas Medical Center. And forget the teeth-grinding traffic and overpriced valet of the Med Center — an expanded Katy Freeway and 1,000 (free) surface parking spaces make commuting to the new hospital a breeze.
"The parking is one of the things people are most excited about," Riley-Brown says. At night, highway passers-by will appreciate geodesic domes protruding from the roof glowing in an assortment of colors, topping off the campus' inspired circle motif.