Garden design within the specialized context of healthcare settings presents an opportunity to take advantage of the often subconscious mental and physical benefits of gardens on people’s psyche. Gardens offer active or passive contact with nature and a calming distraction: plants, flowers, water, wildlife, nature, and sounds which have a different quality than those of the interior of a building. Well-planned and consciously designed gardens provide an outlet for patients seeking fresh air and sunlight; a place of respite for weary family members; an alternative waiting room on a beautiful summer day; and an oasis for hospital staff during breaks.
This diversity of users in healthcare facilities requires full participation and input at the onset of garden design. Input from employees, patients, and administrators is essential in creating a space that ultimately functions as an integral part of the physical and programmatic life of a healthcare facility. For the Luther Midelfort hospital expansion and renovation, major areas of development included a new entry to the hospital, perimeter treatments for a new parking structure and two sunken and enclosed courtyard areas. Landscape architects at Saiki Design crafted a cohesive plan that included interconnected pedestrian walkways and separate activity areas, mitigated challenging grade transitions between interior and exterior building and site levels, and provided focused views to exterior spaces from the new chemotherapy suite.