St. Francis Medical Center NICU Renovation & Expansion

Colorado Springs, Colorado

"The new NICU is, as I tell anyone who will listen, the nicest NICU I have ever seen, all designed to create a healing space for both the baby and our families.”

Brian Erling, MD, MBA, President & CEO, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services


Connecting through experience of place.

The expanded Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center is the first phase of construction for a multi-phase 168,000 square-foot $102M expansion that also includes a new Emergency Department, new operating rooms, antepartum rooms, and shell space for future growth to serve the growing population on the city’s north side. The NICU opened in September 2018, and the remainder of the expansion was completed in February 2019.


Ever curious. Ever learning. Ever improving.

Level III NICUs provide the highest level of care for premature or critically ill babies with a clinical team comprised of a wide variety of highly specialized staff. After years of research and collaboration with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, the design team crafted the NICU in the Family Integrated Care Model which encourages greater parent involvement in premature infant’s care. The 54 single-family rooms in the renovated and expanded NICU encourage positive family interaction and parental overnight stays.


Purposeful, engaging solutions.

In each private room, advanced room lighting supports and stimulates babies’ circadian rhythms to promote growth and accelerate babies’ release to go home. The expanded NICU also features two state-of-the-art couplet care rooms where mothers and babies are kept together in the same room and cared for by the same nursing team. The St. Francis Medical Center’s NICU is the only one in Colorado, and one of the few in the nation, with couplet care rooms. Increased space was also designed to care for multiples (twins, triplets, etc.) in the same room, easing family visits.

A NICU family lounge and a Wellness Garden with unique whimsical art pieces were created to provide respite and to allow families to connect with and support each other. The light-filled garden leads to a Sky Lobby, an outdoor patio with mountain views for staff and families.

Project Details

  • Square footage: 30,668 sf
  • Project cost: $100M (for entire expansion including ORs and the ED)

Design Details

  • Daylighting
  • Biomimicry and local artwork
  • Couplet Care rooms
  • Outdoor patio space
  • Wellness Garden
  • Family Lounge
  • Family pre-discharge room to aid in the transition to home
  • A breast milk lab room with a dedicated nutritionist on staff
  • Photography by Fred Fuhrmeister


  • 2019 Bronze ACE Award, Best Building Project (Over $70M), presented by Association of General Contractors (AGC) Colorado
  • 2019 Engineering Excellence Award of Merit, presented by the American Coucil of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Colorado