Alta Bates NICU Roof Garden, Oakland

Berkeley, California

The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on the third floor of Alta Bates Hospital can be a stressful environment for parents and staff. An adjoining roof terrace presented the opportunity for a therapeutic outdoor garden that provides relief from the often intense hospital environment. The program required maximized planting in limited space, a water feature to provide relaxing sounds and presence, and semi-private spaces to accommodate 3-5 separate groups. Design constraints included an existing raised planting bed, limited rooftop drainage, and strict weight limitations.

The design provided an economical and weight-saving approach. Perpendicular steel planters of bamboo overlap the existing raised bed, defining two distinct areas. The first area is more contained, with a custom planter occupying the square space. The second, larger room centers on a sweeping platform bench crafted from a wind-felled old growth redwood. The size of the sculptural piece allows for use as a table and bench while the shape provides seating for separate groups. A water feature provides a soothing sound to complement the mood of the terrace.

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