by Kent Freed ’91 Just two years after opening, Children’s Hospital of Colorado realized it needed to expand with a building addition that had been originally planned a decade into the future. While the new East Tower addition was an exciting prospect for the growth of the hospital and its services, it posed a dilemma for the Director of Spiritual Services, Bob Flory. The planned site for the new East Tower was next to the hospital chapel where a small garden was an important part of the chaplains’ ministry for hospital patients, visitors and staff. This existing Garden of Hope provided a place of refuge and reflection through the use of a gravel path labyrinth, large trellis, and a peace pole. It was important to ministry’s vision to replace this garden and maintain the connection to the Chapel through the hospital expansion. H+L Architecture’s integrated landscape design team was hired. Embracing the challenge, the team identified great opportunities and possibilities with the new site’s larger size and southern exposure. The new garden was created with three purposeful spaces:
- An entry garden highlighted with a “candle wall” allowing for individual contemplation and small prayer sessions
- An expanded, paved labyrinth surrounded by trees and wood lattice panels providing a peaceful place for reflection and refuge
- A large shade trellis covered patio for grief ministry meetings and activities
The new garden design uses a steel and wooden trellis at the entrance to each garden space, defining the separate experiences. Each trellis and the lattice panels surrounding the labyrinth hold small engraved plaques with inspirational verses or symbols. These plaque messages as well as engraved stone pavers and a verse on a large quarried sandstone block of the candle wall has become one of the most meaningful elements for garden visitors. The chaplains ask children in grief counseling to see how many messages they can find and share which ones speak to them or relate to their feelings, opening the door to deeper communication. Many adults have also expressed how a particular verse touched them, bringing them to tears or triggering healing moments as they deal with the difficult emotions of a sick child or a loss. An unexpected use of the garden was a wedding held beneath the main entry trellis of the garden at the hospital. The parents wanted to share this moment with their hospitalized child and the ceremony in the garden was a perfect locale. The candle wall inscription best summarizes the purpose of the Garden of Hope:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. As long as such a place exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Kent Freed ’91 is a senior associate at H+L Architecture in Lakewood, Colorado, where he specializes in integrating buildings into their sites. He came to Conway with the hope of adding an emphasis on site planning and landscape to his career as an architect. Following his year at Conway, he has worked as a registered landscape architect and architect, seeking to increase true collaborative design. “The natural environment is a complex, but integrated, whole. Built environments are no less complex, and to be healthy, need to just as well balanced. The focus of my education and career has been to observe, understand, and design such holistic places.” He worked on the Garden of Hope project with colleague Jessica Anderson.