St. Joseph’s Health Centre is tightly hemmed in by a highway to the south and a low-rise residential neighbourhood on the other sides. At this hospital—one of Toronto’s oldest—children’s services were previously decentralized, and in some cases mixed in with adult programs. The decision to demolish a 1940s long-term care facility that could not be adapted to modern healthcare standards created an opportunity to consolidate Mother and Child programs into purpose-built space with its own identity. Although linked to the main, south-facing hospital, the new, four-storey Our Lady of Mercy Wing (OLM) faces east, onto a quiet, residential street. Everything from the terraced form and use of brick to child-friendly low sill heights has been designed to make the building feel like part of the community, as opposed to a wing within a large hospital.
The OLM houses an expanded Mother and Child Program that consists of Birthing, Post-Partum, Level II Neonatal Intensive Care, Pediatric Inpatient and Day Clinics, and Child/Adolescent Mental Health Inpatient and Outpatient facilities. As well, the wing includes two 32-bed Surgical Inpatient units, and a 28-bed Sub-Acute Care unit on the top floor. All inpatient and outpatient Children’s Services have now been consolidated onto the third floor of the new OLM, and access to these areas is separate from the general circulation of the main hospital. In tandem with generous access to natural light and views and a warm, non-institutional colour palette, this separate circulation helps to create a healing, low-stress environment for the hospital’s youngest patients and their families.
The double-height lobby was designed to display restored, 1940s stained windows that were salvaged from the chapel of the previous building on the site, and statuary from the same structure was preserved and re-installed at OLM’s main entrance.