When Children’s Memorial Hospital outgrew the location it had called home for 130 years, it considered many options, from expanding to building anew. The first wouldn’t work because the hospital was landlocked in bustling Lincoln Park. So hospital planners began looking for new sites.


Location Chicago
Size 1.25 million ft2
Completed 2012
Program 288 beds, 22 operating rooms (4 hybrid), imaging facilities, offices, and clinical laboratory

“We considered 15 different locations, and at the last minute, a small but strategic site next to Prentice Women’s Hospital in downtown Chicago became available,” says Bruce Komiske, chief of new hospital design and construction. The site included a challenging equation, however. It was only 1.8 acres, and the hospital needed to put 1,250,000 square feet of space on it. That meant the new building would have to be 23 stories high, making it the tallest children’s hospital in the world.

What is now named the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago will also be one of the world’s greenest children’s hospitals. “It’s a responsibility of any new building that services the public—particularly in a city like Chicago, which prides itself on sustainability—to aspire to achieve LEED certification,” he says.

Komiske should know, as he’s a hospital builder by profession. Brought on board by Children’s Hospital of Chicago specifically to lead the new hospital team, this is his fifth children’s hospital and eighth hospital in total. “A hospital is an institution that serves the public and as such has a responsibility to the community to show it’s being a good citizen,” he says.

The 30-foot fiberglass whale that floats above the hospital lobby was donated by Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, one of 23 such installations featured throughout the new building.


Owner Children’s Memorial Hospital
Architects Anderson Mikos Architects, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca
Hospital Planners Kurt Salmon Associates, Balfour Resource Group
Project Manager The Rise Group
Construction Managers Mortenson Construction, Power Construction
MEP Engineer AEI

The hospital—along with hospital-programming firm Kurt Salmon and architects Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, Anderson Mikos Architects, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz—came up with a dynamic design that Komiske says is “all that you’d expect from a new benchmark for children’s hospitals around the world.”

All available space on the roof of the $915 million hospital, for example, is green. “The building’s footprint is only 60,000 square feet per floor,” Komiske says, “but with the exception of space used for equipment and our heliport, the roof is either green—which is a major goal of the City of Chicago—or covered with an enclosed sky garden that is available as a healing environment for patients, family, and staff.”

One of the coolest features of the new hospital is the fact that its design process engaged the entire city. Each of the 23 floors features an installation designed and donated by one of the city’s premier cultural organizations, including the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Joffrey Ballet. “There are some really unique features,” Komiske says. “A 30-foot fiberglass whale and calf [donated by the Shedd Aquarium] on the first floor. A 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with a coral garden [designed by Aquamoon] on the second floor. Pierce Manufacturing donated a fire truck cab just like the one in the historic fire house across the street, and the Airstream Company donated an Airstream trailer—much like the one Ann Lurie sent through Kenya to provide traveling healthcare—that serves as a surgical waiting area.”

This seating area is built from a donated Airstream trailer, a nod to hospital namesake Ann Lurie, who has used such trailers—equipped with medical equipment—in Kenya.


Certification LEED Silver (expected)
Roof Features a 13,000 ft2 sky garden
Materials 100% low-emission adhesives, sealants, paints, coating, and carpets
Water Storm-water system treats 90% of runoff, efficient fixtures reduce water use by 20% percent
Construction 50% of non-hazardous demolition waste was salvaged and/or recycled

Though green building strategies were a high priority, James S. Gimpel, director of facility development at the children’s hospital, says it was hard to select the most important LEED points because each item addresses a specific quality of the environment that directly or indirectly needs attention. “There are points which improve the air quality that our patients and visitors are exposed to on a daily basis,” he says, “while other points address higher filtration and air flow rates. There are other points which directly affect the amount of energy used in the building and hence are important not only to our bottom line through reduced energy costs, but also to the community through lower emissions and the global community through greenhouse gas reductions.”

The list goes on. All told, the hospital expects to obtain 36 LEED points, which should be enough to reach the target of LEED Silver. “With the anticipation of achieving a LEED Silver designation,” Gimpel says, “we can all be proud that Lurie Children’s is playing its role in being a good environmental steward.”