Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Storyland Garden

Submitted by Aesthetics, Inc.


Client: Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

Location: St. Paul, MN, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $100,000

Project Team

Interior Designer

Linda Martinez

Aesthetics, Inc.


Roger Hill

Aesthetics, Inc.




Ken Goldman


As part of the expansion of the St. Paul campus, their healing garden was replaced with a new emergency room and a new six-story patient care tower. The garden had been a source of solace to many of the families for almost 20 years. It included a greenhouse and a master gardener from the community that worked with the children in the patient rooms in caring for the plants. When the Auxiliary generously donated seed money for the project, Aesthetics, Inc. of San Diego was hired to design and facilitate fabrication of the new rooftop garden for the fourth floor.


The project began with a visioning session and the creation of specific goals for the garden. In general we discussed the difference between a garden and a healing garden and intentionally looked for ways to provide a sense of control, movement and exercise, areas for social support and the inclusion of natural and play distractions.

• Make the approach and entrance welcoming and child-friendly
• Provide differentiation of spaces for preadolescent/adolescent groups
• Provide a comfortable social environment with plenty of places for parents and staff to sit and share the space with children
• Provide options for children to interact with nature through their senses and/or hands-on activities
• Provide opportunities for planting
• Provide a range of appropriately scaled, accessible multipurpose settings for hands-on activity, as well as for social gatherings of different types


A committee of stakeholders was assembled to guide the process and review the design in the various stages. From the beginning it was known that the philanthropy would be an important part of creation of the garden. Each of the agreed upon elements were rendered by Aesthetics and artist Ken Goldman to create a fundraising booklet that would assist in making this garden a reality. The garden is located on the fourth floor, right outside of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where some of the sickest children and stressed family members are located. In addition it was important to design spaces in the garden for staff respite and wellbeing. The garden, as stated in its goals, works on many levels; physically, psychologically and emotionally. The clinical team considers it a place for revitalization as well as play therapy and rehabilitation. There is a labyrinth for walking and meditation. The 6000 sq. foot garden includes an interactive fountain, artfully designed playground equipment for climbing, little cars for driving, and even a talking tube where kids can speak into the ear of a deer statue and the sound comes out of a giant sculpted pink flower.

Additional Information

Even though the garden is used only in good weather, it is much loved and used by the patients, families and staff. The fountain, which is designed to limit stagnant water, which can harbor germs, has many details to keep little ones busy for some time. Play rubber has been strategically placed around the garden to prevent children from getting hurt if they fall. There are plenty of real flowers growing in the many planters on the roof deck. There are colorful blooms of lush tropical varieties, as well as many succulents.