Architect’s whimsical features brighten new Akron Children’s building

The 8-foot tree sculpture inside the addition to Akron Children's Boardman campus features work by local artists

Dream Tree at Akron Children's Hospital Boardman campus.


BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Hospital leaders wanted to create a homelike atmosphere with the newest addition to the Boardman Akron Children’s campus.

In just a few weeks, all of Akron Children’s clinical offices will move from Humility of Mary’s campus to a brand new building at the Beeghly Campus on Market Street.

The new $20 million building is almost finished and it’s unlike any other hospital building.

“We wanted to make the entrance into the building for the families and kids friendly, inviting, warm,” said Lisa Taafe, the clinical administrative director. “We don’t want to make it feel like a hospital setting, so we’re hoping to have something whimsical, something to look at and enjoy and not be fearful of.”

Architect Adam May said bright colors and cheerful decorations will make going to the doctor less scary for children.

“It feels very homey when you come in. There’s a lot of wood textures, a lot of warm materials — brick, things that remind them of home — while also having bright, fun colors, a lot of toys, and playful elements. That will make them feel more comfortable.”

The centerpiece of the hospital’s “Reconnecting with Nature” theme is the Dream Tree sculpture.

May, along with Tony Nicholas — who works with the nonprofit group “Artists of the Rustbelt” — developed the concept.

The 8-foot tree features woodwork by Greg Webber and painting by May and Laurie Anderson. Freshmade 3D — a Youngstown Business Incubator company — created 3D animals to place around the tree.

The entire Dream Tree project took five months to complete.

“The Youngstown Business Incubator did some of the local talent for our sculptures and some of our other artwork. We have a lot of talent in the Valley. We wanted to keep everything we were doing in the building local,” Taafe said.

Several students from Liberty High School, Austintown Intermediate, Canfield High School, West Boulevard Elementary, Center Middle School, and Boardman High School submitted photography and artwork to adorn the walls.

If you want to see it for yourself, there’s an open house on June 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a ribbon cutting ceremony at noon. The new building will open for patients on July 11.

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