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Brigham and Women's Hospital officials are changing the way premature babies and their families interact during treatment.

As part of a complete overhaul of the Boston hospital, the traditional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will now allow families to
stay together during the baby's treatment.

At the center of the reception area is a large desk made of HI-MACS® solid surfaces in the color Oatmeal. The desk is a showcase
piece that had to satisfy stringent requirements because of its location.

"We were trying to make it feel as welcoming as possible even though it's a security point," Andrew Brumbach, project coordinator
with the architect TRO Jung Brannen in Boston, said. "We made an effort to make the whole lobby welcoming."



The renovation and expansion is part of a $1 billion construction project at the hospital.

The Life. Giving. Breakthroughs. campaign began in 2013, and construction on the neonatal unit started in early 2015. The certificate of occupancy for the NICU's new construction was issued this spring. By 2017, the NICU project should be finished.

After renovations, the 3,000 families served each year in the NICU will be able to stay together in single rooms during their stay at the hospital.


While parents have always been welcome in the unit at all times of the day or night, these new rooms will give them a place to sleep with access to natural light, and increased privacy.

By making it easier for parents to stay with their babies around the clock, the renovations are expected to help newborns with critical development during the first few days or weeks of life.


The decision to use HI-MACS solid surfaces, which is on the hospital's list of approved materials, was made early in the renovation process.

Oatmeal became the base color for the unit's neutral color palette and was repeated for other shared spaces of the unit, such as the staff workstations and break room.

The neutral palette used throughout the unit includes Off-White, Oatmeal, Tan and Beige. The furniture provides splashes of color throughout, and the wood floors add their own accent.

"We selected wood flooring to bring additional warmth to the project," Brumbach said.


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To be included in the hospital's list of approved products, materials must meet the highest standards of cleanliness and functionality.

Cleanliness and sanitation issues that are so critical in any health care facility are doubly important around these young patients. Newborns in this unit are among the most vulnerable patients in the hospital. They are admitted to the unit if they are born premature, experience problems during delivery, or develop health issues in their first few days of life.


Brigham and Women's Hospital has a set of approved project materials, which includes HI-MACS solid surfaces.
There are many advantages to choosing HI-MACS:

  • The material is easy to clean and non-porous, meaning it resists the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.

  • The material is a low-volatile organic compound surface and is GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality certified, making it safe for newborns and their families.

  • HI-MACS can be molded into any size or three-dimensional shape, perfect for the unique design desired by the unit's front desk staff.


    The U-shaped front desk is large enough for up to four people, including one receptionist and two staff members at workstations housing computers, phones and printers. A fourth person could fit in fairly easily, Brumbach said. The desk measures 9 feet wide by 13 feet long. The front of the desk is 30 inches high, but the sides extend to 48 inches, allowing for privacy.

    The desk, which is directly in front of the elevators, gives visitors a welcoming first impression but is large enough to block access to the rest of the unit. The shape also allows for innovative lighting.

    "There is accent lighting on the underside of that curve," Brumbach said. "It creates a halo effect on that desk." The architects and hospital are pleased with the final product.

    "It turned out very well," Brumbach said. "The end result was really, really strong."


    Architecture: TRO JUNG
    Product Manager: Andrew Brumbach