Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), a world leader in the advancement of pediatric healthcare, needed to expand beyond its main campus in Philadelphia’s University City. A site across the Schuylkill River presented an opportunity to establish a new campus. The design challenge was to integrate a state-of-the-art research building into an established residential neighborhood.
To create a building reflective of CHOP’s aspirations but also accommodating to neighbors, Ballinger designed the 21-story tower to engage the surrounding city and link to the immediate neighborhood. The upper levels are clad in glass, creating a sleek silhouette when viewed from CHOP’s main campus, while the lower levels feature terra cotta, respecting the brick character of neighboring buildings. The building touches the ground lightly, with parking and service hidden beneath a plinth and a ground floor that includes a public plaza, links to the Schuylkill River Trail, and passage through the site.
The Roberts Center for Pediatric Research is dedicated to desk-based research and administrative offices. In keeping with CHOP’s commitment to evidence-based decision making, the interior design process began with extensive research. Ballinger conducted surveys, focus groups, observation studies, benchmarking and town hall sessions to understand the space ratios and sizes that would best work for faculty and staff. The data collected led to the design of an 8,000 SF pilot space.
The Roberts Center’s interiors incorporate a flexible yet standardized planning strategy that the institution plans to use for future sites. It includes an integrated MEP, architectural, lighting and furniture solution that allows for office space to be broken down over the course of a weekend and reconfigured to accommodate the ebb and flow of research groups.
CHOP’s commitment to pediatric patients and to benefiting the city at large is reinforced by the LED display atop the tower. Programmable lights can be controlled wirelessly by inpatients of CHOP’s main hospital building across the river, and are visible from patient rooms and throughout Philadelphia.
Design Consultant: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Urban Planner: Cooper Robertson