Outpatient services of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which is dedicated to research, education and therapeutic care for children with neurological injuries and developmental disabilities, were housed in scattered locations. The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Building consolidates these functions into a structure in which building, interior and landscape design merge to promote dignity, interaction, independence and the exploration of potential.
The design team conceived the building symbolically as a three-part process. Therapy, or body, is expressed in its precast and mass. Research, or mind, is evoked by its curtain wall and abundant natural light. And hope, or spirit, is conveyed by the transparent interface of the building’s interior with its therapy garden and, from upper floors, panoramic city views.
The principal public space is a two-story lobby, oriented toward the north and providing gentle natural light. Outside it, the block-long garden is organized into distinct “rooms” devoted to mobility activities for young patients and respite for families and staff. Located along the building’s front, but recessed and protected by a low wall, its design respects patients’ and families’ privacy needs without hiding the Institute’s presence. An arcing path that commences at a water feature leads into the lobby with the gestural curve of a “welcome wall.” This illuminated billboard articulates the theme of body, mind and spirit through silhouetted imagery of active children and the inspirational slogan “In my mind, I can do anything.”
Arriving patients and families are greeted by the lobby’s organic shapes, nature-themed color palette and light-reflecting, touch-inviting materials. These strategies continue throughout the building, helping to overcome dispiriting stereotypes of therapeutic facilities, as do the structure’s pervasive transparency and natural light. Meanwhile, its modernist aesthetic communicates the Institute’s commitment to research, state-of-the-art medicine and the possibilities of healing.
Location: Baltimore, MD, US
My Role: Design Architect