By Kim O’Connell

“In the heart of downtown Boston, only a few blocks from Fenway Park and the Charles River, Boston Children’s Hospital feels like a world unto itself. Hospitals often feel this way because of their nature as places where some of life’s weightiest events happen—births, deaths, life-saving surgeries and treatments. At Boston Children’s, these things are infused with the deep concern that attends this special population, where the stakes are as high as they could ever be. Each family, each patient, each story feels unique and profound.

In developing a series of gardens for the hospital, it was important to the landscape architect Mikyoung Kim, FASLA, that the designs reflected all the complexities intrinsic to this environment. For Kim, it was not a place for conventional thinking about childhood, where a designer could include bright colors and animal pictures and call it a day. Instead, Kim and her colleagues at Mikyoung Kim Design (MYKD) applied their many years of studying human behavior. The hospital gardens manifest the firm’s long-held practice of conducting its own scientific research and collecting evidence as an underpinning of design. Informed by the firm’s study of biology, neuroscience, and human emotion, the hospital gardens are not just places for play and release, where children and their families can push away the hardest emotions, but also for fear and grief. Because humans live in those emotional realms, too.”

Read More in Landscape Architecture Magazine’s April 2024 Issue