Seattle Children’s Prepares for Hospital Expansion with Pacific Northwest-themed Directional Wayfinding System


Sensory cues will help patients and families more easily navigate the hospital

Seattle Children’s today unveiled a new hospital-wide directional wayfinding system to simplify the way patients, families, staff and visitors navigate through the expanding campus. “Wayfinding” includes anything that helps people identify where they are and gets them to where they want to go – such as signage, maps, floor numbers, room numbers and design schemes.

In April 2013, Children’s will add 330,000 square feet of space to the hospital’s campus with the opening of the Building Hope expansion for cancer, critical and emergency care. While Building Hope will increase the complexity of the hospital layout, the wayfinding system will make it easier to get from one location to another.

“Building Hope provided us with the perfect opportunity to update Seattle Children’s wayfinding system,” said Todd Johnson, wayfinding project lead and vice president of facilities at Seattle Children’s. “Its consistent themes and visual cues will streamline the way patients and staff move through the hospital, saving time and easing stress for visitors.”

The wayfinding system was designed to intuitively and logically organize and divide space within the hospital. It consists of four new Pacific Northwest-themed zones: Forest, Mountain, Ocean and River. The Forest zone exclusively includes the new Building Hope location and will be accessible in April, while the other zones encompass the existing building. Artwork, including colorful murals and carved surfaces, correspond with zone themes and support a healing environment intended to calm anxieties and offer discovery, amusement and positive distractions.

Various aspects of the wayfinding system such as zone names, icons, signage and art, went through testing with patients, families and staff. Testing helped uncover which design themes would be most universally understandable and culturally acceptable by the various populations Children’s serves.

Children’s has been preparing for wayfinding changes for more than two years. During this time, hospital staff and emergency response teams took part in special simulation and training exercises to ensure they were well prepared for the changes and new structure. The final conversion steps took place over the weekend which included overnight updates made to 41 information systems such as Children’s electronic medical records system. Fire and elevator systems were also reprogrammed, and smaller changes were made to several other hospital systems.

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About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children’s bold initiative – It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s – to transform children’s health for generations to come.

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