Legs and Walking LAb


Design + Structure


The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is revolutionizing the future of rehabilitation by creating a new model of care and that also means developing a  a new approach to hospital design. For example...

  • Each two-story ability lab has a lift track designed by special suspension engineers. The tracks are mounted to the ceiling and span the floor and central staircase. These anti-gravity lift tracks support the patient’s weight so that he or she can feel safe while practicing walking and climbing stairs.
  • The soaring floor-to-ceiling windows in the two-story ability labs let in sunshine and inspire with beautiful views and the feeling of being outdoors. 
  • The patient rooms were intentionally placed along the perimeter of the building so that every private patient room has a large window. The bathrooms are the largest of any facility of our kind; doors slide open for even greater accessibility, and the shower can be used while standing, sitting or lying down. 

Color + Graphics


The colors on each floor have a therapeutic purpose. For example, the Legs + Walking Lab is bright orange, red and yellow; by contrast, the top floor of the Brain Innovation Center creates a soothing “skyscape” featuring a whispering transition from pale peach to soft blue. Patients with recent traumatic brain injury need to be protected from too much stimulation.


Color theory at the AbilityLab


Similarly, the graphics are intended to help with wayfinding and healing. The shapes reflect the focus of specific areas. For example, the Arms + Hands Lab has depictions of hands and hand movement, the Think + Speak Lab has depictions of thought and conversation “bubbles,” as you might see in a graphic novel. 



Like the building and the spaces within, our museum-quality art collection is spread throughout the hospital — from the Sky Lobby and gardens to each patient floor. The collection was designed with intention to fill the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s public and patient spaces with colorful, contemporary, invigorating and inspiring art.

The spirit is engaged by all five senses, the mind, nature and intuition. Thus, our individually selected pieces — paintings that sooth, grab the lapels or bring an instant smile; sculpture, mobiles and digital art that moves; a brilliantly colored leaded-glass wall in the chapel. Imagination is on full display.

The AbilityLab Architecture and Design


Several leading firms collaborated on the new hospital’s construction, design and experience:

  • HDR, Inc. planned the organization of the building, conceived the operational framework for clinical and research programs, and designed the Biologics Lab and clinical areas such as inpatient units, patient rooms, outpatient spaces, exam rooms, the pharmacy and the radiology department.
  • Gensler designed the 27-floor building, interior environments for public and staff use, hybrid administrative office spaces, the chapel and complex mechanical systems.
  • Clive Wilkinson Architects (CWa) developed the design language for the five ability labs, custom furniture and equipment, the Ground and Sky Lobby, patient hubs, vistas, café lounge and entrance and exit wayfinding strategies.
  • EGG Office worked closely with CWa to design the graphics that adorn the hospital’s entrance, Sky Lobby, ability labs, ambulance bay and café. It also designed all signage inside and outside of the facility, including donor and room signage.
  • Power Construction managed the hospital’s construction.
  • Arcadis served as the owner’s representative in overseeing the project.
  • Art Agency, Partners, led by Allan Schwartzman, helped to identify artists and select or procure commissioned art for public spaces and patient areas within the hospital.
  • Code and Theory designed this website.

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