New “Child Life Zone” Opens in Florida Hospital

Chicago Scenic has wrapped up yet-another collaboration on a Teammates for Kids space—co-founded by the Garth Brooks Foundation—to develop and create the new children’s space at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.

The new Child Life Zone—Chicago Scenic’s third of these unique venues—is a therapeutic play, game, and relaxation area on the hospital’s 8th floor for children and teens (ages 2 thru 17) on extended hospital stays.

Chicago Scenic provided design support, fabrication, and installation on the project while once again teaming with Christopher Molinsky, principal and design consultant with Vertical LLC.

Each Child Life Zone is designed to incorporate significant elements that reflect the surrounding environment: visitors to this Zone are met with bright primary colors that are so prevalent in the area.

The DiMaggio Children’s Hospital venue is a 2,500 sq. ft. space and features an 11-ft. tall Everglades tree. “The Chicago Scenic carpentry team fabricated the tree and its 16-ft.-wide green canopy from wood and acrylic; finding the hanging orb lights that give life to the tree was one of our first and lingering challenges that the team met on this project,” says Jason Dornbush, the Chicago Scenic project manager.

“The tree was originally designed to be decorated with three times as many orb lights but due to ongoing Covid-related supply chain issues, just one-third of the lights we wanted were initially shipped,” Jason says. “While the team continued to search for additional lights throughout the project’s duration, we eventually learned that the original manufacturer was not making them anymore.”

Under the tree’s somewhat dimmer canopy, there are plenty of things to do: two interactives, one an activity table, the other a water table with interactive touch screen electronics are attached to the base of the tree; the water table’s interactive shows how water moves through soil. Bowen Technovation of Indiana provided the hardware and integration for this interactive. “They’ve been one of our consistent partners on developing these Zones from the very beginning”, Jason Dornbush added.

Another prominent interactive that draws visitors is the realistic DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Mobile Unit, probably because it’s a familiar sight in many neighborhoods around the area as the mobile units provide children with free services such as immunizations and vaccines, vision and hearing testing, and video telehealth connections.

The life-sized replica is a four-sided vehicle with an enlarged opening on the driver’s side to provide easy access to the Unit’s interior. Inside, visitors find simple interactives that provide information about a variety of medical topics, from anatomy charts to pulse measurement. Visitors can also activate realistic effects such as headlights and the emergency lights on the Mobile Unit’s roof.

According to Jason Dornbush: “Chicago Scenic’s carpenters used the shop’s CNC computerized equipment to precisely cut the Mobile Unit’s wooden profile, then transported that cut-out to graphics partner Color Images who printed and mounted the realistic exterior graphic onto the wooden shape. The result is a very realistic replica,”

Other interactives include two large hexagon shapes, one that serves as a popular Photo Pod and is large enough to fit several people inside. Patients and their families can use the mounted iPad camera to take photos and then immediately print copies at the printing station. The other hexagon shape is a relaxation station that’s perfect for visitors who want to take a quiet break.

The hexagons are made from natural wood and their interiors feature cushions made by Chicago Scenic’s Soft Goods department. The cushions are upholstered with Marmoleum, a hard covering known for its durability and permanent bacterial-repellant properties; the material is easy to clean and stands up to the strong cleaning agents used in hospitals. The cushions—covered in green, blue, purple—continue the venue’s brightly colored theme. Project partners Bowen Technovation and Media Dynamics worked on the photo booth’s interface software.

Another interactive—a simple row boat—is crafted from light wood veneer and plywood and offers another quiet place to rest. The boat is constructed with an open back to facilitate easy access, inside children can use the boat’s fishing poles and relax on the interior bench.

The space also features a video game area with custom cabinets—a favorite among older patients—and a Plinko game where players insert a coin into a slot at the top and watch as it takes a random path down through the game board until it shoots out the bottom.

Chicago Scenic’s team created a special video screen. “We worked with Bowen to find the best vinyl coatings to apply to the clear frosted glass screen,” said Jason Dornbush. “Now, an overhead projector projects videos onto the glass screen, and when it’s not in use, the glass is simply a nice interior touch.”

The Florida Child Life Zone opened in October 2022. Chicago Scenic and team members previously created Child Life Zones for the UCLA Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio .

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