In close consultation with patients and physicians, ZGF designed a three-story vertical expansion of an existing building for Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana, consolidating pediatric care and providing best-in-class amenities at this hospital-within-a-hospital.


The expansion hosts the outpatient Pediatric Hematology Oncology department, Pediatric Intensive / Pediatric Acute Care Units, and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU). Building on a body of the latest research showing premature infants benefit from close physical contact with their parents, Dr. Robert White, an internationally renowned neonatologist, and his NICU team were strong proponents of developing a NICU that supports couplet care by providing private patient rooms that enable families to stay with infants for weeks or even months. Nine extended family rooms accommodate a variety of scenarios that require more space: couplet care; kangaroo care, a method of neonatal care that involves skin-to-skin contact between mother and child; twins / multiple births; hospice care; and super-critical babies.


Hospital staff and ZGF cooperated on a Lean integrated design approach, gathering input from patients on what their ideal healthcare experience would include and testing clinical simulation scenarios to maximize the efficiency of the space. Input from patients and families resulted in a range of design solutions, including: customizable LED lighting in rooms, which can be adjusted to white, pink, blue, red, yellow, or green hues; a cave-like haven for teen patients; and a bright color scheme throughout the hospital.


Evidence-based design also played a key part in the hospital’s creation; daylight and themes of plants and nature, which improve health outcomes for patients and reduce stress for families and staff, are incorporated throughout the space. The two-story enclosed atrium, softly lit by green “firefly” lights, is a creative solution to the expansion’s limited footprint; it maximizes daylight to all patient rooms and provides an outdoor-like space sheltered from South Bend’s harsh winters. Other amenities include a rooftop terrace, playrooms, family lounges, staff lounges and napping rooms, and an education / resource room.