Case Study

Child Life Zone at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital Fun Times at California’s First Teammates for Kids Child Life Zone

Los Angeles, California USA

The Challenge

Teammates for Kids is funded by the Garth Brooks Foundation and chose UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital specifically for its first West Coast installation. There were two primary challenges to this project for the HKS-lead design team. Because this project is in an acute care hospital, California’s regulatory agency, the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI), had to review the project. Because HCAI has long approval cycles, and the facility is categorized as HCAI 1, there were demanding structural and architectural criteria for mounting and securing equipment. In addition, we were not permitted to anchor or penetrate the exterior terrace where most of the large play equipment pieces are located.

The Design Solution

The design team collaborated with HCAI throughout the project to review options for securing the play equipment according to the agency’s requirements. To avoid penetrating the waterproofing of the terrace, designers weighted the exterior play equipment to meet HCAI’s strict wind and structural load criteria.  Next, the team delivered and installed the heavy play equipment pieces accounting for the size limitations of the freight elevators and assembling onsite. Throughout the construction, which occurred during the COVID pandemic, the hospital maintained full operations.

The Design Impact

This was the first project of this type and complexity in an HCAI facility. During an in-patient hospital stay kids — from toddlers to teens — and their families can access a variety of age-appropriate therapeutic play and learning spaces. These include a sensory room that provides a place of respite for kids on the autism spectrum, a film studio and sound stage, and a Microsoft Wall that features three flat screens for multi-player gaming. This project enhances the efforts of Child Life practitioners who work with the entire multi-disciplinary team to promote coping, create meaningful memories of play, and enhance the overall health care experience for young patients and their families.

Project Features

  • Lifeguard station medical play
  • Fishing Boat
  • All-Star Lounge
  • Microsoft Wall for gaming
  • Film and Recording Studio
  • Barbie Dream House
  • Hot Wheels Garage
  • Interactive Digital Touch-screen
  • Sensory Room
  • Interactive Ball Wall
  • Maker Space for arts and crafts, including 3-D printing