The Prouty Garden, at Boston Children’s Hospital, is seen in June. The beloved space is slated for demolition, with a new clinical building set to go in its place. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Boston Children’s Hospital is known as one of the top hospitals in the world. It’s an elite pediatric center that treats devious and complex medical disorders, researches cures, and saves children’s lives.
The hospital is in the Longwood Medical Area, and there’s not a lot of breathing room there. Children’s is cheek by jowl with its neighbors — Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Center. The property is pricey and open space is a rarity. So when a hospital needs to expand, as Children’s does, it’s hard pressed to find space.
But not far from the jam of traffic outside Children’s, tucked between the hospital’s main buildings, is a half-acre oasis called Prouty Garden.
It has fountains, pine trees and birches, and a 65-foot dawn redwood tree. There’s a gazebo in the corner, alcoves shrouded by shrubs for privacy, little squirrel and rabbit sculptures, and real rabbits, too. The garden has won national acclaim.
On one of our visits, a family picnicked under the redwood. A little girl sat on a bench with an oxygen tank. Parents pushed children in wheelchairs and with IV poles. Staff had lunch on the lawn and at tables on the terrace. Such has been life in Prouty Garden for almost 60 years.
A rendering of the planned Boston Children’s Clinical Building, to be built on the site of the Prouty Garden and Wolbach building (Courtesy of Children’s Hospital)
Now, Prouty is at the center of a piqued battle that’s pit some staff and families of patients against the hospital. That’s because next year, the garden is slated to be demolished. The hospital plans to build in its place an 11-story, $1.5 billion clinical building. It’ll feature a state-of-the art neonatal intensive care unit, a pediatric heart center with a cardiac clinic, operating rooms and enough space so the hospital can offer all patients private rooms.
Tami Rich, of Ashland, says it will save lives, and that’s what matters most to her.
“Garden spaces and healing spaces are incredibly important to me,” Rich says. “But saving the lives of kids, for me, it’s sort of an apples and oranges conversation.”
Children’s Hospital helped save her son Jameson’s life. He was born with complex heart defects. His mother spent hundreds of nights at Children’s with him — almost always in a room with another patient. Continue reading