Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Cafeteria

Project Narrative

Eating is only a small part of experiencing food. Food is a multi-sensory experience that immerses you in a world of discovery and performance. The approach to the cafeteria is a sequence of glass panels, giving patrons glimpses of the interiors, therefore building intrigue and interest. By implementing a high level of choice and control for patrons, it creates a space that is unique for many visits. Interactive ordering kiosks give patrons the option to control the gradient of color on the screens. A theatrical dining experience allows children to be transported into various imaginative worlds where their input influences the meal being cooked. A cooking class creates a memorable hands-on activity for both parents and children. Soft glowing booths act as semi-private seating where patrons can control sound systems and light, tuning it to their specific sensory preferences, and creating a space for introspective performance. Social areas such as the dining lounge on the lower level encourage conversation and play between patrons. Watching people bask and play in the colored light becomes a performance in and of itself. The colored light canopy curves into the exterior, revealing an island of tiered seating. A reflecting pool sits underneath giving the children an opportunity to connect back to nature. The pool itself is only 4" deep to prevent safety concerns, while still allowing children to feel the healing effects of water. The elevated tiered seating provides a tranquil space for those who may need it. Glass openings in the floor of the exterior seating let light flow into the reflecting pool while three larger voids have water features circulating the reflecting pool water. The selected material palette works in tandem with the spatial geometry of the space to create an air of mystery and discovery throughout. Rippled glass blurs the threshold for the cooking classroom, while hammered steel reflects the glow of the screens, but in a slightly distorted way. High-contrast colored plastic is used on the seating for ease of cleaning and for visually impaired patrons. The materials on the lower level are kept light and neutral to emphasize the reflectivity of colored light whereas the colors and materials on the exterior are extracted from the colored light itself, tying the design together and creating a level of playfulness in each space. Mirrored ceilings and glowing light panels create moments of awe and a sense of childlike wonder for all patrons. Lush native vegetation and water features create tranquil and grounding exterior spaces. The cafeteria provides a selection of experiences that cater to every patron’s needs whether they are a patient, hospital worker, visitor, sibling, friend, parent, or someone from the local community.


Project Details

Submission Category

Experiential Graphics- Large scale (environments or systems)

Date of Completion

April, 2022