University of Iowa Children's Hospital - CODAworx

University of Iowa Children’s Hospital

Client: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital

Location: Iowa City , IA, United States

Completion date: 2016

Project Team


Larry Kirkland

Project Manager

John Grant

Public Art Services


The 30,000 square foot 22′ tall lobby for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital has 14,000 square feet of open space that is open day and night for the patients, families and staff of the facility. The building was the design of Foster+Partners and the interiors by Zimmer Gunsal Frasca Partnership. Artist Larry Kirkland was brought into the project by ZGF to focus on the lobby. The collaboration touched every surface and resulted in a bright joyful adventuresome space. The DISCOVERY FLOOR of terrazzo uses a twisting ribbon motif filled with a variety of patterns, images of toys, tools, animals and birds intertwined like puzzle pieces. In addition, Spirograph patterns mark the larger gathering spaces within the lobby. Six MY TOWN wind vanes rotate overhead. Stacks of inlaid Corian alphabet blocks spell out the names of geographically dispersed Iowa towns. Images associated with these places enliven the blocks. The wind vanes suggest a visual narrative and recall the rural roots of the state. The six LET’S SEE vitrines link two sides of the lobby with small scale three dimensional cases. Using alphabet blocks, toy animals and other found objects, the art pieces are perfect for exploring hidden words and math challenges as a place to distract and discover.


The goal was to make an environment that was welcoming and a place to investigate and discover. From working on several other children's hospitals Kirkland knows that one goal is to create distractions for those families dealing with a seriously ill child.


Public Art Services was invited by the artist Larry Kirkland to work as a collaborative partner in the design, engineering, fabrication and installation oversight for this project.