New Connecticut facility offers privacy and community for patient families

A new residential facility offers families of patients at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Connecticut, privacy and a sense of community.
Photo © Robert Benson. Photo courtesy Svigals+Partners

The first phase of construction of a residential facility for families of patients at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Connecticut, was completed recently. The new residences—designed by Svigals+Partners and built by contractor Petra Construction—are the result of a collaboration with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts.

Replacing a nearby facility, the newly-built residential complex is larger and more conveniently located directly across the street from the hospital’s entrance. It offers a welcoming and natural setting in an urban context, providing both privacy and community for residing families. With its colorful façades featuring sculptures that enchant visitors and neighbors alike, the structure is a memorable and significant addition to the Hill neighborhood of New Haven.

The U-shaped building’s central courtyard is framed by two stair tower elements. With its architecturally integrated sculptural forms, the building depicts an image of people who appear to be holding up the towers—a reference to the charitable group’s themes of support and community.

The rear of the three-story building is defined by an exterior patio and play area for children, cantilevered sunrooms on the upper floors, and a one-story glass façade element to open up the shared living and dining areas to views and sunlight. Alternating materials of glass and colorful stucco play off the soft edges of the courtyard greenery.

The design strives for connections between indoors and outdoors, bringing in natural daylight and providing a connection to the landscaped natural environment. The efforts of interior design group CAMA, Inc. help Svigals+Partners to realize a space that promotes an overall sense of well-being. Gathering spaces with higher ceilings allow light to penetrate deep into the building. Users of the glass-enclosed stair towers enjoy views of the life in the street, which reinforces a sense of community. Natural finish materials are incorporated throughout the facility, creating an environment of comfort and repose.

The ground floor is clad in a louro preto wood rainscreen system to provide durability due to the proximity to the street, as well as to denote the different program located within—social spaces are reserved for this floor. Additionally, it provides great insulation value along with high-performance water management.

The second and third floors are clad with an exterior insulation finish system (EIFS), combining expansion joints with a raked grid and various stucco colors to give the appearance of a paneling façade. Value was a big consideration as EIFS provides significant savings compared to other cladding systems in this instance.

“Specifying EIFS provided the added benefit of being an effective medium for creating the sculptural reliefs of figures of children framing the sides of the storefront windows at the entrance courtyard. Integrating EIFS in between the two levels of the sunroom windows also allowed more flexibility for coordinating the detailing and installation of the aluminum art pieces,” said Ron Cooper, project manager.

The glazing is primarily large wood-clad insulated awning windows, along with an aluminum insulated storefront at the main courtyard entry. There is also some minor aluminum cladding between the floors with the storefront glazing.

A decorative aluminum skin added another layer of fun and complexity to the overall effect. The brushed aluminum caryatid sculptures clad the structural columns at the front façade, to emphasize the roles of parents and guardians as pillars of the family unit providing strength and support.

Representing the first phase of a three-phase project, the staged construction allows families to occupy the facility while building continues outside. The first portion of the building provides 18 guestrooms with a private bath in each and two private “respite rooms,” where parents can relax or hold private conversations. When all phases are completed, the 2601-m2 (28,000-sf) facility will house almost three times as many families as the residence it replaces—30 bedrooms plus the two respite rooms—while providing them with much-needed privacy.

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