HealthcareNationwide Children’s Adds New Data, Education Center On Campus

Nationwide Children’s Adds New Data, Education Center On Campus

Nationwide Children’s, Columbus, Ohio

Among the numerous steps taken to expand its downtown Columbus, Ohio, campus over the past 15 years, Nationwide Children’s Hospital found an elegant, if unusual, solution for two very different space challenges.

On one hand, the campus’s data center was nearing 20 years old and past its prime. On the other, meeting and learning spaces for clinicians, researchers, and staff were inconveniently scattered throughout the campus and in rented space about a mile away.

The existing campus master plan included a placeholder for an unspecified “amenity building” in a strategically central location—which is now up and running and serves as the answer to both challenges. The new building houses an updated data center, multipurpose conference facility, and simulation labs under one roof.

New home for amenity spaces on campus

Putting the programs together in this well-situated spot—highly visible to local community members who would also use the meeting space—made sense. “It needed to be useful to our staff, be useful to the community, and welcome people into the hospital beyond the clinical world,” says Patty McClimon, senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Gensler’s Chicago office provided the architecture and interior design framework to bring the four-story project to life. “Healthcare campuses can really struggle to create a community,” says Randy Guillot, principal and global healthcare leader at Gensler. The priorities for the new building were clear: “Putting the people who use it first, without compromising the needs of each individual program.”

Data center design

The qualities of a data center (ultrahigh security, complex engineering, and low foot traffic) may have little in common with the needs of a conference/training facility (high-traffic circulation, sophisticated A/V, and outward-facing design). But Gensler sought to present a cohesive building that balances transparency and security.

The lower, first, and second floors offer a full suite of simulation spaces as well as multipurpose continuing education and training rooms. The data center sits on the third and fourth floors, beneath the rooftop mechanical systems critical for its operation. Drawing on the design language of the rest of the growing campus, the exterior features varied reflectivity and opacities.

“We ended up stacking the programs, integrating them in a way that recognizes the unique needs of each of them, but wrapping them in public elements that encourage activity on the campus, really inviting the outside in,” Guillot says.

Indeed, the interior’s public circulation areas are lined with floor-to-ceiling windows. A custom fritted façade provides more opacity around the data center and other spaces needing privacy.

Expanding simulation lab space

The new center has allowed Nationwide Children’s to expand and enhance its programming, only in part because it now has an auditorium that seats 300-plus people.

“We can bring entire groups together now that we used to have to rent space for,” McClimon says. “But we’ve also added new dimensions to our simulations. Where we had only operating room simulation before, now we have spaces that look like inpatient and outpatient rooms. We can simulate critical conversations with patients and their families.”

Kristin D. Zeit is a contributing editor at Healthcare Design and can be reached at


Nationwide Children’s Hospital Data Center + Conference Facility Project Details:

Project : Nationwide Children’s Hospital Data Center + Conference Facility

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Completion date: June 2023

Owner: Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Total building area: 87,204 sq. ft

Total construction cost: N/A

Cost/sq. ft.: N/A

Architect: Gensler

Associate architect: Moody Nolan

Interior designer: Gensler

General contractor: Turner Construction Company

Engineers: HAWA, Inc. (structural, electrical), Evans, Mechwart, Hambleton, & Tilton, Inc. (civil), Syska Hennessy Group (electrical)

Acoustics: JW Mooney LLC

Builder: Turner Construction Company

Nationwide interior brand consultant: Kathleen Baldwin

AV equipment/electronics/software: ESI equipment, ETC Connect

Carpet Tile: Bentley Mills

Terrazzo: Spectra Contract Flooring

Resinous Flooring: Stonhard

VCT: Armstrong Flooring

Ceiling/wall systems: Armstrong, ACGI (Wood Slat Ceiling)

Doors/locks/hardware: Norwood Hardware & Supply, AAG

Fabric Wrapped Panels: Carnegie Fabrics

Millwork: Forum, Wilsonart, Pionite, 3-Form, Dupont Corian, Bacon Veneer

Furniture: Dupler Office, Allsteel, Design Within Reach, Fritz Hansen, Futrus, Keilhauer, Stylex, Leland, Bernhardt Design, Rove Concepts, Oscar Pipson, Ellison Recliners, Gunlocke, Pfiefer Studio, Mix Furniture, USM Haller, Forms and Surfaces, Landscapeforms

Handrails/wall guards: Acrovyn, Construction Specialties, Corian, Fry Reglet, Crane Composites (Kemlite)

Headwalls/booms: Skytron

Lighting: Sistemalux, Lithonia, iGuzzini (exterior); Gotham, Mark Lighting, Traxon, Lithonia, Meteor, Lighting Services Inc, Mater Design, Tran LED (interior)

Signage/wayfinding: Harlan Graphic Arts Services Inc

Wall Tile: Transceramica, Daltile, Stone Source

Custom Digitally Printed Wall Covering: Flavorpaper

Exterior Glazing: Viracon with architect designed custom frit pattern

Exterior Metal: PPG

Rollershade: Mechoshade

Modernfold: Modernfold

Interior Glass: Starphire, Clarus Glassboards, Pilkington

Project details are provided by the design team and not vetted by Healthcare Design.

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