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Bruce at Lurie Children's Hospital, 2012.

I can't remember when I first met Bruce Komiske, but it was probably at the Symposium on Healthcare Design in 1996 when he participated in a panel discussion about designing a children's hospital.

A hospital administrator by training, Bruce had recently finished helping to plan, build, and engage the community to create the award-winning Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I. Among other things, he shared with us three guiding principles that his team had learned from the project:

  1. If you don't set a vision for the project that is beyond where you are, all you will create is the same program in a new pretty box.
  2. The days of just replacing facilities because they are old and antiqued are over. There needs to be an economic advantage.
  3. You have to break paradigms in order to be truly successful.

Now even though that was almost 20 years ago, as I read them again in the Journal of Healthcare Design, Volume 9, I think those principles still ring true today.

And I'd venture to guess that they have guided Bruce as he has gone on to build other great children's hospitals -- among them, the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla, NY; and Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. He also did the early planning for the Benioff Children’s Hospital at University of California San Francisco, as well as the Children’s & Women’s Hospital – Sidra Medical Center in Doha, Qatar.

Bruce pioneered the concept of bringing the community into the children's hospital by using real objects as part of the design. At Hasbro it was a boat from a local marina, a fire truck at Fareri, and whales from the Museum of Natural History at Lurie. And lots of other stuff to engage both children and adults while visiting the hospital.

After Lurie opened in 2012, Bruce joined Fareri Associates to help plan and build a medical village on the Westchester Medical Center campus, including the first of its' kind, a Living Science Center. A museum where kids can learn about being healthy.

But the project was moving too slow for him, and being a journeyman children's hospital guy, Bruce moved on again. "Building children's hospitals is what I do," he told me when I ran into him at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium in Chicago recently.

Now Bruce is Vice President, New Hospital Design & Construction for the new $35 million Children's Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, TN. And he's working with HKS Inc. Atlanta and McCarthy Building Companies to plan, design, and build it. I can't wait to see his latest creation -- although it's going to probably at least five years before it breaks ground.

In his spare time (what spare time?), Bruce likes to sail and still serves as a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, giving architectural tours of the city when he's in town.

Want more Bruce?

Who wouldn't? Check out his books on Amazon.

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9 years ago

Thank you for such a nice commentary. It has been great following your influence on creating a healing environment and know that it is still going strong.
Your good friend,

Robin Orr

9 years ago

So wonderful to be caught up on Bruce's creative mind and effective contribution to the design of Children's hospitals. Just reading your blog made me smile remembering the first time I saw the power of whimsy, creative play and positive distration come alive in a Children's hospital. In addition, thank you for doing the hard work to convince others to donate to such wonderfully inventive places for children to heal. Keep on trucking dear Bruce...

Gary Vance

9 years ago

It is very important to understand where we have been ... where we are ... and where we want to go. This insightful commentary by Sara is an example of how important it is to understand where we have been in the planning, design and construction of healthcare.

Thanks so much Bruce for your commitment to one of our most important and vulnerable " user groups " in healthcare - our children !!

Annette Turnpenny

9 years ago

I heard Bruce speak a few years ago at a conference in Scotland and thought he and the work he was doing were inspirational. So glad to hear that he is still doing great works for the sick children of America and their families. Brilliant.

Sara Marberry_013-Retouched-New copy

What's my story? I'm a healthcare and senior living design knowledge expert who writes and speaks frequently about trends and issues affecting these two industries. I'm also a strategic marketing consultant and content creator, working with companies and organizations who want to improve the quality of healthcare and senior living through the design of the physical environment. You can reach me at .

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