With a playful perforatedmetal facade, colorful columns welcoming visitors at the entry, and a floor plan designed to maximize positive patient experiences and collaborative workflows, ZGF Architects has transformed a former big-box Circuit City store into a bright 37,000-square-foot outpatient facility. Completed in August 2015 for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the South Clinic serves the suburbs south of Seattle and is a prototype for the hospital’s expansion across the Puget Sound Region.

Parks represent the most significant public forums in the area, and the building acts similarly, uniting the community as a child-centered connector that goes beyond functioning as a clinic to offer after-hours health education. The plan is organized with social spaces—a waiting room especially for patients’ siblings that also accommodates after-hours programming; a gym that doubles as a physical therapy facility—flanking the lobby and more private rooms beyond. ZGF principal Victoria Nichols credits the former store’s elongated footprint with the ability to centralize services and create “efficient workspaces and modules that incorporate principles of lean design.”

Inspired by nearby Dash Point Park and the hospital’s bright, branded color palette, the team focused on references to nature in the design. Artist Marta Windeisen’s abstract graphics, the wood wall, the prominence of the gym, and the welcoming native-plant garden all emphasize nature and play.

The $10 million clinic, which was fully funded by the client, provides specialized care close to patients’ homes, including ophthalmology, speech therapy, and sports therapy. Nichols credits the work of 13 design charrettes (the formats of which ranged from tabletop events and fullscale mock-ups to real-time modeling with patients, families, providers, and hospital staff) as essential to the design and planning process. Nearing two years in operation, the South Clinic has been a huge success. Multipurpose exam rooms have reduced the number of specialty rooms from 20 to 5, “which is pretty impressive,” says Mandy Hansen, the hospital’s director of facility planning and design. And the gym? As ZGF principal Taka Soga reports, “It’s booked and full of kids all of the time!”


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