Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Review – Capturing the City’s Imagination

The new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, began with a contribution of $100 million by Ann Lurie who was once a nurse at Children's Memorial Hospital. Stepping into the “Shedd Aquarium” lobby at the beginning of a media tour and seeing the fish swimming in the elevator fish tank was our first clue this is a unique hospital filled with fantasy.

Before the opening the public will have the opportunity of touring the facility on May 11th and 12th (Community Open House Friday, May 11, 3-7 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 10-5 p.m. The public is invited to a community celebration and preview of the opening of Lurie Children’s. Tours of our new state-of-the-art facility will be offered continuously. Each tour lasts approximately 45 minutes. Light refreshments will be provided. Please RSVP.)

Patrick Magoon, President and CEO of Lurie Children’s Hospital explained that it is a great advantage to be located on the Feinberg Medical campus, to be next door to Prentice and in close proximity to all the other hospitals. Recognizing the location in the city center it was decided to make Chicago’s cultural institutions part of the hospital. Ultimately, there were 25,000 participants involved in what is expected to be world-class hospital attracting the best worldwide experts. In addition, the hospital will impact the city, county and the state.   In building the hospital, there were three thousand construction one hundred and sixty million dollars were provided in salary, with one hundred million dollars going to 95 minority contractors.


Dr. Marleta Reynolds, Chief of the Department of Surgery demonstrated one of the units designed for minimally invasive surgery.   She demonstrated how it is possible to simultaneously execute surgery and teach about the procedure.  Integrated video cameras make it possible for residents and fellows to observe live surgeries from any location.  There are 21 operating/procedure rooms fully equipped for minimally invasive surgery and special procedures.


On the 15th floor, the “heart” of the hospital, is the Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit  Michelle Stephenson, Chief Patient Care Services Officer and Chief Nurse Executive took center stage.  She pointed out that the CCU is one of the few pediatric units of its kind in the nation and this will help minimize transfers and enhance patient safety.  The decentralized nursing stations on all inpatient floors bring care closer to the patients.  There is a unique room design allowing families to be private but also part of doctor/nurse discussion on the “porch” outside their room.


Having visited Kinc Studio ( and had a sneak peek at Peter in the Wolf the theme for this floor, seeing the real thing was rewarding. The two creative partners, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lookinglass Theatre, who joined together in 2010 to present Into the Big Green Meadow, a family series concert based on Peter and the Wolf, were paired with Kinc by Rene Roy who believed they were the perfect choice for blending the talents of the two partners.  Roy is the producer of the hospital’s Skylight TV and project manager for this partnership.  He believes that, ““Utilizing the arts as part of the healing process has always been a part of the culture at Children's Memorial Hospital,” Kinc’s Katherine Ross said, “..It is important to make sure that the visions of each of the creative arts community partners are fully realized. Balancing the artistic and practical sides of the design includes everything from making sure that the pieces themselves are cleanable and pose no physical safety hazards to the young patients, to ensuring that the artworks will be of the highest quality, have emotional depth, and give value to the patients and their families in the days and months they will be living on the floor.”


With the idea of “Listening with your heart”,  Kinc began work in February, 2011 and developed a new production story line specifically for the floor, keeping in mind that their offering needed to interest patients who were there for a short time or a long time, were very young or somewhat older and so on.  The forest is “scary”, the lake “contemplative”, grandfather “safety”, hunters “hospital staff”, wolf  “disease”.  Wonderful puppets were designed and created by Kate Stransky. There is also a book especially rewritten with the adapted story.


The Emergency Department on the second floor, where Dr. Steven Krug is Division Head, Emergency Medicine. Emergency Department beds went from 25 to 45 with dedicated CT scanners and enhanced trauma rooms.  There is also a unique ambulance bay and 2nd floor Emergency Department location.


The research that has shown the importance of a healing environment was inspirational in planning the hospital.  Input from staff and patients were important resulting in more than 20 cultural partners from Chicago designing environments that provide education and discovery under the leadership of Bruce Komiske, Chief, New Hospital Design & Construction.


Meeting Ellen Gordon was inspirational.  She began her stay at Children’s Memorial Hospital as a third grader and continued as a patient until high school.  Now she is a nursing student at Loyola.  In her role as a member of the Kid’s Advisory Board she was involved in planning for an environment that was like an amusement park by requesting: fantastical water creatures and aquarium near the emergency room, a bamboo garden, animal icons on the elevator buttons, the tree house and we saw all of this.


Our wonderful guide, Liz Keating, took us to one more floor –the 12th. It was full of surprises:  a fire engine to climb in, a tree house, the most wonderful collage of 100 children’s faces photographed by John Manning who did the photographs for the Millennium Park Fountain. The faces are wonderful and alternate with fabrics representing the members of the Chicago Cultural Alliance.  The Chicago Cultural Alliance is a nonprofit organization and consortium of Chicago's ethnic museums, cultural centers, and historical societies whose mission is to effect social change and public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives. The Alliance connects our member museums and centers to flagship arts and cultural institutions, universities, schools, businesses and government agencies.  There is also a beautiful  “Forest of Hope” Chapel.   

The shift from Children’s Memorial Hospital after 130 years of serving 148,000 Children from every state and 35 countries around the world, to a state-of-the-art facility at 225 E. Chicago Avenue in Chicago will involved 25 ambulances and is expected to tale 12 to 18 hours.


The design team for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago is composed of more than 20 LEED® accredited professionals, all committed to sustainable design practices and continually investigating innovative strategies. Green design and construction, and operation of the facility includes:

  • Plant and maintain a 13,039 square-foot roof garden.
  • Reduce water pollution through storm water management to treat 90 percent of all storm water runoff.
  • Integrate light-colored exterior to help minimize the impact of heat on the surrounding area.
  • Reduce the overall water usage by 20 percent by using highly efficient plumbing fixtures.
  • Reduce energy consumption through a specially designed ventilation system.
  • Promote healthy indoor air quality by using 100 percent low-emission adhesives, sealants, paints, coating and carpets.




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