Mikyoung Kim Design’s green master plan and gardens at Boston Children’s Hospital are designed for healing

On the Mend

Mikyoung Kim Design’s green master plan and gardens at Boston Children’s Hospital are designed for healing

The Wishingstone Healing Garden by Mikyoung Kim Design adds space for relaxation and contemplation in one of Boston’s busiest neighborhoods. (Rob Benson/Courtesy Mikyoung Kim Design)

Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) is a Brutalist ensemble completed in 1970 by The Architect’s Collaborative (TAC). Later in 2014, Payette added the James Mandell Building to the hospital complex, a 10-story urban infill tower. In 2022, Payette’s contribution was followed by the Shepley Bulfinch–designed Hale Medical Tower. More recently, Mikyoung Kim Design, a local landscape architecture firm, is the latest studio to finish a major addition to the children’s center on Longwood Avenue.

In Boston’s Kenmore area, a new “green master plan” and garden by Mikyoung Kim spruces up the medical center encircled by busy roads and sky ramps. The project adds four new open-air gardens, three interior winter gardens, and a redesigned main hospital entry to the campus. In 2019, Mikyoung Kim took home an AN Best of Design Award for the project in the Unbuilt – Landscape category.

Wishingstone Healing Garden (Rob Benson/Courtesy Mikyoung Kim Design)

The project follows the completion of Hale Medical Tower, built on top of the former Olmstead Brothers–designed Prouty Garden. Hale Medical Tower added 150 beds to Boston Children’s Hospital and eliminates double rooms in the facility. It also marks 25 percent more green space at the BCH campus vis-a-vis the Mikyoung Kim–designed gardens.

Phase one of the project kicked off in 2018 when the first exterior healing garden was finished. From there, interior gardens were inserted into Hale Medical Tower to provide year-round sanctuaries for Boston Children’s Hospital’s most vulnerable patients. The garden gives each patient, their family and caregiver green space that’s easily accessible from their hospital room. The design intent, the architects say, is to give patients a place of contemplation and escape from the noise and stresses of the hospital. The final garden expansion, the Wishingstone Garden, takes cues from the bedrock of the site. It adds sinuous granite benches and raised garden beds to give the natural landscape an even more organic form.

Boston Children’s Hospital Hale Garden by Mikyoung Kim Design (Rob Benson/Courtesy Mikyoung Kim Design)

Guiding principles behind the healing gardens are stress reduction and mental restoration. The green spaces also, according to Mikyoung Kim, were conceived to foster social support; provide privacy; and offer positive distractions through artwork, natural elements, and opportunities for discovery and play. The architects added that the healing spaces could reduce the amount of time patients stay at the hospital.

Custom furniture at Boston Children’s Hospital by Mikyoung Kim Design (Rob Benson/Courtesy Mikyoung Kim Design)

The redesigned entry on Longwood Avenue shortly followed. This feature is meant to help with way finding and create a strong identity for the hospital, Mikyoung Kim proffered. Mikyoung Kim further noted that the green master plan is fully ADA-compliant and takes into account neurodiverse patients. The landscape architects designed for the full range of emotional, cognitive, and sensory experiences.

“In each garden we provided a variety of spaces; from intimate nooks to more open terraces, Mikyoung Kim said in a statement. “A layering of natural materials frames each of these distinct zones, from stone benches to evergreen microforest and butterfly gardens each of these contemplative spaces are surrounded by nature.”

Microforest (Rob Benson/Courtesy Mikyoung Kim Design)

In working closely with hospital administration a number of objects were upcycled from the site, including trees repurposed into benches. A large Dawn Redwood tree is reused for a sacred table within the hospital’s multifaith chapel.