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Healing Havens
Two hospital gardens in Portland, Oregon, win awards for therapeutic values.
By Clare Cooper Marcus

Designing a garden for a children’s hospital can be a particular challenge. If it is going to function well for the variety of people who may seek to use it, the garden needs to be all of the following:

  • a green oasis for burnt-out staff,
  • a sanctuary for worried or grieving parents,
  • an engaging environment for hospitalized children,
  • a stimulating setting for the well siblings of an inpatient, and
  • a stress-reducing milieu for an outpatient child brought in for tests or frightening procedures.
Healing Havens
The configuration of the Healing Garden includes richly planted, raised concrete planter; curving pathways; groundlevel planting; and a small plaza with garden benches.
Healing Havens: Photo by John Hughel

The Children’s Garden at Legacy Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon—although at first glance appearing to be “nothing special”—subtly fulfills the needs of all these potential garden users. As a result the garden, open 24 hours a day, receives use by adult as well as child patients, and by all who use or visit the hospital.

In 1997, Legacy Health System hired Portland architects Mic and Connie Johnson to remodel and coordinate the pediatric facilities in the hospital and to create a new corridor linking the main hospital foyer to elevators accessing pediatric check-in on an upper floor. Visible through the windows of the new corridor was an unkempt courtyard with a soggy patch of lawn. The CEO of Legacy Health System, John G. King, was moving the hospital toward more patient-centered care; creating a new garden in the courtyard fit in with this goal.

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