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Lutheran Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department

Make Like a Tree


Lutheran Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department


Fort Wayne, Indiana



7,300 SF


7 exam rooms and support spaces

Team Leaders

Jerry Nix

Jerry Nix

AIA, Principal

Andrew Mithcell

Andy Mitchell



Lutheran Hospital has embarked on a unique vision – one that provides a Pediatric Emergency Department specifically designed to serve children in need.

MKM has served Lutheran Hospital for over thirty years as they continue to implement innovative care models serving the surrounding community. As a 7,200 SF non-trauma emergency department for patients under the age of 18, the new Pediatric Emergency Department (Peds ED) is the latest example of their dedication to the patients they serve. By renovating an existing space within the hospital previously used as a fast-track clinic, this project allowed the hospital to position itself with a unique and engaging asset –
a space specifically designed for children.


The department comprises of seven exam rooms and support spaces required for typical emergency services. Along with the requirements for the Pediatric Emergency Department, the program required integration of new registration and waiting areas for pediatric and adult patients, and improved security for the Emergency Department.


The design team was challenged to create a comforting environment of care for pediatric patients that would blend seamlessly with the “treehouse” identity of the Children’s Hospital and create a visible icon within the emergency services area of the main hospital campus. This “hospital within a hospital” offers an environment filled with imagination and color. The award-winning design of the tree house elevator, specially decorated rooms, hallways and waiting areas invite children and their families to focus on something other than the often unpleasant purpose of their visit.


Lutheran Hospital Leadership stressed that not all emergency rooms are the same, and Lutheran's is now vastly different. Most hospitals have some dedicated pediatric patient exam rooms, but those young patients are sometimes exposed to the unsettling sights and sounds of adult ER situations. Leadership wanted to change that experience. The new pediatric ED immediately establishes an environment that defines a child-friendly zone where children are the priority.


From the beginning of the design process, interactive spaces were important in maintaining the treehouse experience and managing the care of the patients. Extensive research of materials and finishes was done to meet the requirements for a type I-2 building occupancy. The design team was mindful to balance the infection control
needs of the hospital and the whimsical nature of the treehouse.


The tree trunk located as central focus of the waiting area was designed to have a realistic texture for children to touch. There are multiple motion sensors near the tree
that activate woodland creature sounds to match the animals that inhabit the tree. To create a focal point as patients enter the department, the nurse station was designed as
a “treehouse” with features that match the main elements of the Children’s Hospital logo. Adding visual continuity with the lobby, the corridor repeats features of the tree canopy and leaves.

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