Stanford’s d.school students integrate artwork into expanding children’s hospital

students of Stanford d.school

Students of the Stanford d.school explored opportunities to further integrate art and design into plans for the new Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford

Graduate students from the Institute of Design at Stanford, also known as the d.school, joined forces with the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford expansion team last week to explore ways to further integrate artwork and other creative elements into plans for the expanding pediatric and obstetric hospital campus.

When Lucile Packard founded the hospital in 1991, she imagined a place that nurtured both the body and soul of every child. She believed in the power of nature and art as an important part of the healing process for patients, and wanted kids to be treated like kids – not just as patients. The new 521,000 square foot main building will carry forward this vision, in part through three major art installations: signage and murals depicting the California ecosystem, a photo timeline showcasing the history of the hospital and Stanford University, and a one-of-a-kind “Incrediball” machine, a larger-than-life installation in the new lobby. The Incrediball is likened to a pinball machine and Mouse Trap, where a ball travels through an engineered course of the Stanford Campus.

Throughout the semester, six groups of d.school students worked together to come up with ways to make the art installations more interactive for patients and families, beyond just their visual appeal. To prepare for their projects, the design teams visited Packard Children’s patients and families living at Ronald McDonald House Stanford, met with members of the Child and Family Life Services team, and toured the hospital construction site.

Taking key learnings from each of these visits, the design teams each focused on one of the three installations, and designed projects to make the art more accessible, engaging and educational for visitors to the hospital. They presented their final projects on November 15 to an audience including fellow students, hospital staff and representatives from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. Presentations included “The Incrediball Challenge,” which would allow visitors to decorate their own balls to use within the machine; an “Ecoadventure” activity book that would bring the California ecosystem artwork to patients in an interactive format; a customizable scavenger hunt that would lead patients and families throughout the hospital; an app that creates virtual pets for patients to design and care for; an “Adviewture” educational tool designed to educate visitors about the ecosystem art around them; and a detective game device built to get patients out of the waiting room to explore the hospital.dschool-project-class-stanford-childrens

An “Ecoadventure” activity book designed to keep patients entertained and explore the ecosystem artwork throughout the hospital “Design thinking is about enhancing human experience,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, PhD, Co-Director, University Innovation Fellows Program, and Adjunct Professor at the d.school. “By bringing this mindset to the hospital through this project, our students have produced work that eloquently combines functional elements with the heart and healing that Packard Children’s provides each of its patients. It is something we are all extremely proud of.”

A common thread through all projects was the importance of making them scalable and customizable for different age groups, interests and levels of mobility, to appeal to and enrich the experience of all our patients.

“The d.school’s final presentations were fascinating both in terms of thoughtful responses to the patient experience and innovative ideas related to the art experience for the hospital to explore,” said Elizabeth Dunlevie, a longtime hospital supporter and chair of the expansion’s Design Task Force. “I immediately saw five or six ideas which we had not previously considered, which we will explore.”

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