When Entech Innovative Engineering was tasked with redesigning the lobby of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, the bid for the project was won with a rough design that changed as time progressed. The design called for re-theming three different areas inside the hospital and one area outside the entrance doors.
With more than 25 years of project management experience, one lesson learned is we don’t know what we don’t know! Issues or add-on features will come up during a project, so we manage them properly, so the budget and timeline are not affected. When defining a project scope, make sure to clearly define what is and what is not included. When changes occur, be sure to clearly understand the change and determine how the change impacts the project.
The first zone in the hospital project was the atrium because it featured a second story glass ceiling with colorful sails to block some of the direct sunlight. The most eye-catching aspect of this area is the atrium features a cloud mural painted on the walls and a hot-air balloon mobile to bring the sky to life.
The hot-air balloon mobile was a bit more challenging because we had to design a mobile that turned very slowly but was also able to be lowered for cleaning. Entech also had to design a method for hanging the mobile and its motors because the ceiling structures were irregular. The mobile spins at a rate of one rotation per minute and the ceiling features other hot-air balloons hung around the atrium.
Down below, we installed several other eye-catching features in the atrium area of the lobby. Specifically, we installed two faux palm trees and what we called the “mechanical interactive wall.” The palm trees were to bring some life into the space and for the hospital to use for their “Christmas in July” activities.
The mechanical interactive wall is a structure that children can play with while waiting on treatment. It features a large maze wheel kids can turn and two smaller wheels that control balloons for catching falling balls inside the interactive wall. We designed the entire structure to work without any electricity, be difficult to break and be safe for children. Children are not able to poke any of their fingers into gaps and everything is designed not to catch any IV tubes connected to patients.
The interactive wall began with a few sketches for what it might look like and do, then it was created with Solidworks software models. Entech Innovative built the entire wall, including choosing the correct materials.
Included on this side of the room is two television cabinet walls with large screen TVs and Xbox One video games. Our project scope included another themed paint job on the walls for this side of the room and decided the area had the look and feel of a movie theatre, so the paint job was a gradient night sky with stars and comets. The stars include glow-in-the-dark paint so they would shine at night when regular lights are dimmed in the lobby.
The TV cabinet walls took up the entire space in two alcoves on either side of the room. Each cabinet was designed to specifically fit in its own hole since the alcoves were not identical or mirrored. The cabinets feature a front door that swings upward in order to access the TV and two legs that drop down from the door in order to support the structure while someone works on it. Below are smaller, standard cabinets for housing games and other items.
The third area of the St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital we worked on was between the two areas of the lobby where the security desk is located. The security desk is designed to look like a hot-air balloon basket. The basket portion houses the desk and storage for security, while overhead is the bottom of a balloon skirt with ropes leading up to it. The unique skirt was built by a real balloon maker out of authentic hot-air balloon material.
Before work began, the entrance area to the lobby was a dimly lit outdoor hallway with six large purple columns. The original project proposal had our team creating large paintbrushes and pencils out of the purple columns, but the hospital wanted to change it to something less child-like. The final design featured a mural on either wall, one of the ocean and one of the sand dunes commonly found near the Tampa seashore. On the columns, we created a three-dimensional cover that resembled coral growing on the stanchion of a pier.
The feedback from hospital staff and, more importantly, the children visiting the hospital was outstanding, including how the area no longer felt like a healthcare setting, but like being at a park on a clear day. Visit entechinnovative.com for more information about other design/fabricate/install projects.