For the last two decades, the privately funded Nancy & Stephen Grand Family House has provided free accommodations for young, often terminally ill patients—and their families—who are being treated at the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital. In 2011, faced with growing demand, the nonprofit organization enlisted San Francisco–based Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects to design a new 80-family facility, which opened in the Mission Bay neighborhood in April 2016, achieving LEED Platinum certification. In developing the design, the architects looked to both the staff and the families for inspiration.
“This is a traumatic experience for families,” notes principal Richard Stacy, “so we wanted the first impression coming through the door to be welcoming and non-institutional.” In this vein, the team created a playroom for young patients and their siblings by the reception area and, at the staff’s request, included private counseling and meditation rooms nearby.
To help develop the program, the design team conducted interviews with families who have stayed in the house multiple times. “One of the main things they talked about was how much they bonded with other families there,” says Stacy. So the architects focused on creating a sense of community by separating the facility into eight intimate 10-family clusters spread across the building’s four upper floors. While each family has either a single or double suite with a private bathroom and bay windows, they share a living and dining room, kitchen, play area, and laundry with nine others. Ample glazing in the wide corridors allows views of the second-story courtyard, where an “infinity loop” pathway wraps around a large, grassy play area and a paved terrace for gatherings and events. “We tried as much as possible to bring in natural light,” says Stacy. “It contributes to healing, both for the children and for the trauma these families are going through.”