Renown Tahoe Tower NICU/PICU

Reno, Nevada
You've Never Seen an ICU Like This Before

The patients, families, and staff in an intensive care unit face extreme, difficult emotions on a regular basis. We wanted to make their lives a little easier. As part of a sweeping functional and aesthetic transformation for Renown Health, we designed this new pediatric and neonatal ICU to be both highly efficient and emotionally restorative.

With custom art inspired by Reno’s community and local environment, the unit embodies the spirit of the region and softens the clinical look of intensive care. A cheerful, immersive nature theme gives young patients a mental escape, leading them from elevator lobby to patient room as if through playful meadows to a campground under the starry skies of Lake Tahoe.

This space also incorporates the latest in material health, infection prevention, and evidence-based design for a resilient and sustainable environment that looks after its occupants.

The immersive experience begins as soon as you exit the elevator.
A perforated, backlit ceiling casts dappled light across your shoulders, and seasonally relevant shapes are projected onto the floor.
Cloud-like lighting and murals incorporating local animals and nature scenes animate the circulation areas.
The design took inspiration from migration and evokes movement with playful touches like sculptural butterflies and swirling leaves. A soft, curving floor pattern leads you to your room.
Child-Friendly, Not Childish

For a playful experience appropriate to its audience, we consulted a very engaged group of pediatric nurse managers and physicians to better understand their patients. The result—cheerful, vibrant, approachable—captures children’s imaginations and offers positive distraction.

The design concept evokes the calming power and intuitive guidance of natural rhythms and landscapes in a journey of color, light, and art. It taps into the way stars help us navigate and how our internal clocks respond to light. The immersive experience begins in the elevator lobby and continues through cozy patient rooms on the PICU side, while the NICU side supports families staying for extended periods with a more soothing aesthetic.

Cozy, restorative PICU rooms feature sunset gradients and twinkling overhead lights that let children feel like they are camping under the stars at Lake Tahoe.
“When families come to us, they’re going through one of the most difficult times in their lives. This new NICU/PICU means so much for those families because it provides an uplifting environment with plenty of privacy and the best technology available. The spaces allow families to focus on their kids while we focus on helping them get better.”

—Kristen Cleveland-Ceballos, Renown Manager of Nursing

An interactive niche projects light so children can make shadow puppets of familiar Reno-area animals.
This positive distraction helps entertain young patients or family members and has limited capacity to spread bacteria.
This reading nook—one of multiple optimistic, interactive unit components—is an area of comfort for children.
The celestial design and yellow crescent moon cushion thematically link to the patient rooms, and the friendly bear completes what has become a popular social media photography spot.
With custom art inspired by Reno’s community and local environment, the unit embodies the spirit of the region and softens the clinical look of intensive care.

“Art can be a beautiful, non-judging vessel that can hold all the confusion, the fear, the pain, and the hopes of the viewer. Art speaks to the soul, heart, and mind. It speaks to the whole person, just like the best of the healthcare professionals on staff at Renown Health. The art displayed at Renown spoke to my broken heart, damaged spirit; it lifted my soul again and again.”

—Dan Callis, father of a Renown patient

Each bright nurse station acts like a North Star, making it easy to navigate the floor and drawing attention to areas where you can go for help.
Patient rooms, also identified by distinct color schemes, take on cooler tones for a more subdued energy.
Protecting the Littlest Patients—and their Parents

The NICU feels safe and calming. Extensive glazing allows clinicians to easily see one another and monitor patients, and decentralized nurse stations support faster response times. Circadian rhythm lighting and large glowing drum lights make the space feel homey and familiar, also helping regulate the newborns. With views of a beautiful mountainscape from the NICU bays, families can feel connected to nature and soothed by a sense of openness. Also comforting are the subtle touches—furniture and clocks in Renown’s brand color, purple—that act as reminders of the high quality of care being provided.

Project Team

Gardner Vass
Ashley Dias