Situated in the heart of downtown Chicago, the Crown Sky Garden is a sanctuary for patients, families, doctors and administrators within the 23 story Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The commitment to this sky garden was built upon a growing body of scientific research which links access to natural light and contemplative spaces to reduced patient recovery time. This regenerative project offers a new paradigm for healthcare design that integrates healing gardens as part of the healthcare regimen within institutional environments.
The Crown Sky Garden, on the 11th floor of the children’s hospital, is a 5,000-square-foot area for play and contemplation and the second healing garden completed last year by Mikyoung Kim. Ms. Kim, a 44-year-old landscape architect, is regarded as an artful weaver of nature and sculpture. Situated within a glass green house, the garden is defined by a series of interactive elements of light, and sound within the coloured resin walls. The Sky Garden also features a bamboo grove and interactive furniture that emits sounds when an embedded brass hand is touched with a live one. It is an innovative design for children’s healthcare, aiming to reduce the stress suffered by children admitted to the hospital institution.
Project Ripple, Ms. Kim’s garden at Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami, opened in August. “When we look for a place to call home and we nurture a garden we call our own, we are looking for a place that’s restorative, that’s regenerative and that has a kind of humanity,” she told a reporter on the phone from her office in Boston.
Q. How do you define a healing garden?
A. It allows for us to reboot. I think that a lot of our public environments don’t really offer us that.
Q. Certainly not in hospitals.
A. Overall, a kind of stress management happens. It’s something we all know intuitively. We go to a place that’s quiet and inviting, and we can just feel our body relaxing. I think at the highest level, hospital administrators are really beginning to believe that design matters and they’re infusing a kind of humanity into these clinical environments.
The Chicago Sky Garden incorporates a range of individual and collective spaces that meet the needs of children with immune deficiencies, while offering a place for discovery and innovative engagement.
Such creative and beautiful spaces show how healing and therapeutic gardens can be designed to meet the needs of both individuals and groups, even within the one garden. They can improve the health outcomes for individuals of all kinds: patients, carers, families, friends and staff, as well as bringing access to the joy and beauty of nature that everyone deserves to experience and enjoy.
Image details: Mikyoung Kim, a landscape architect, has designed gardens for hospitals in Chicago and Miami.
Photography by: CHRISTOPHER BAKER