When you enter the main lobby of our new children’s hospital, you’ll walk into a space like no other. It’s a playful place to discover and explore. A space for relaxing and passing time. A spot to get a drink or a bite to eat. Filled with natural light, the two-story lobby features comfortable seating, colorful artwork, and convenient amenities. It will be known as the Gerdin Family Lobby in recognition of the Gerdin family’s generous contributions to the children’s hospital.

The lobby will include spaces for family respite, including public restrooms and space dedicated to meeting family and visitor lactation, feeding, and caregiving needs. Comfortable seating throughout the lobby will provide families and visitors a place to gather and relax. A distinctive S-shaped sofa will accent the lobby’s north side, not far from a children’s theater. The lobby also will offer several groupings of chairs and small tables. Look for the distinctive egg-shaped chairs. They are fun, comfy, and cozy.

Besides being a place for exploration and discovery, the lobby will offer many amenities:

Admitting and Registration Desk

Employees will support admitting and registration. Patient financial counseling will be offered, too.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Located at the west end of the lobby, the light-filled café will feature different stations, such as a grill area, pizza area, and deli. Popular breakfast offerings will include a Belgian waffle bar and breakfast pizza. Menus have been designed to appeal to people of all ages. Snacks—fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese/grape cups, and sushi—will be offered all day. Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Janice and Bruce Ellig Children’s Library

Pediatric patients will have a library dedicated to their interests and needs. Story hour will be held here every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., and the library will offer fun for kids of all ages in a specially designed gaming area. A resource center within the library will be dedicated to helping families learn more about their child’s illness or condition. The existing Patients’ Library will remain open on the eighth floor of the Roy Carver Pavilion (RCP) in University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.

Concierge Desk

Staff will provide families with information and amenities to enhance their experience, such as overnight lodging, transportation, interpretive services, and notary services. Staff will also coordinate in-kind donations and schedule events in public spaces.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at other times, assistance will be provided at the information desk.

Information Desk

The information desk staff will welcome patients and visitors, provide directions, and supply information about hospital services and amenities. Payment for valet parking will be processed here, and multiday discounted parking passes will be available for purchase.

  • Hours: Open 24/7

Louis and Marilyn Hurwitz Coffee Shop

This coffee shop will be a popular stop for families, visitors, and employees.

  • Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to noon.

Kaleidoscope Gift Shop and Safety Store

Kaleidoscope Gift Shop and Safety Store has altered operations as we keep the health and safety of patients and staff as our highest priority. The store is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For Safety Store assistance outside of these hours, please call 319-356-3543. For Gift Shop assistance outside of these hours, please call 319-356-1999.

This unique space offers a retail experience specifically designed to welcome, engage, and comfort all who visit. It offers:

  • Whimsical and educational products selected for children and families. Proceeds benefit patients and families through Volunteer Services.
  • Traditional safety equipment, including bicycle helmets, child passenger safety seats, in-home safety products, and medical alert bracelets, to name just a few. As part of our injury prevention and community outreach mission, child safety products are offered at reduced prices. Product sales are accompanied by education on proper use from our injury prevention experts.
  • A diverse inventory of adaptable safety products designed specifically for children with special health care and educational needs.
  • Convenient access from the main lobby to families’ vehicles for installation and inspection of child passenger safety seats. Anyone may schedule an appointment with a child passenger safety technician to ensure their car seats are properly installed, no matter where they were purchased.

The gift shop and safety store space features a larger-than-life interactive kaleidoscope display, scavenger hunts, and more.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon

Lobby Artwork

Several towering art pieces are among the first things patients, families, and visitors will notice in the lobby. Artist Larry Kirkland created six vertical art pieces, known as wind vanes, which will be scattered throughout the space.

Each wind vane will display the names of two Iowa communities. The featured cities are: Boone, Corydon, Des Moines, Keokuk, Le Mars, Maquoketa, Mason City, New Albin, Red Oak, Sabula, Story City, and Westfield. Graphics decorating the wind vanes will depict each town’s heritage, geography, and attractions. Together they reflect the rich tradition and history of the state of Iowa.

The “Blooming Wall,” also created by Larry Kirkland, is a three-dimensional installation consisting of triangular-shaped panels that give the effect of a colorful vertical blind. Mounted along the lobby’s interior wall, the panels are white and varying shades of blue, green, and purple. The shades of the panels increase gradually in intensity, or “bloom,” before fading to white. Then the cycle repeats itself. Patients, families, visitors, staff, and volunteers will enjoy viewing the wall from different angles and distances.

Playful artwork inside six vitrines, or glass-covered window displays, will be enjoyed by all who visit the Gerdin Family Lobby. Each of the displays will be about 7 feet tall and will showcase a different and timeless theme.

Inside the alphabet-themed vitrine, families will notice small wooden alphabet blocks mounted on thin bases made of Corian®. Also mounted on the backdrops are miniature items whose names begin with the same letter displayed on the nearby alphabet block. Be sure to reflect on the “M” display.

Another vitrine will feature crosswords crafted from Scrabble® tiles and alphabet blocks. Some of the featured words tie back to the Iowa theme and include names of places from around our state. A game trail in another vitrine will highlight oval sections cut from popular game boards. Various pieces and dice from the corresponding games weave a path throughout the display.

The playfulness in the lobby doesn’t stop with the walls or the artwork. The terrazzo floor will incorporate geometric shapes that resemble patterns found in a kaleidoscope. Children and adults alike can explore by following the outlines of the shapes as they walk through the lobby.

Nick's Theater

This state-of-the-art space will offer various forms of entertainment and activities for patients, families, visitors, and staff to enjoy. Programmed activities will include themed TV and movie nights, interactive gaming, pep rallies, musical and theatrical performances, puppet shows, and much more.

  • Hours: Daily, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for open play (unless special events are scheduled)

Outdoor Areas

For your safety, all playgrounds on the UI Health Care campus and at UI Health Care facilities are closed until further notice.

Spaces to relax and interact with nature are available throughout the children’s hospital campus. Families, visitors, and staff will enjoy strolling through the Pappajohn Plaza located on the north side of the building. The Hy-Vee Outdoor Plaza is perfect for a meal or simply for enjoying the fresh air. The playground, located on the south side of the building, is accessible for children of all ages and abilities. Families will be able to enjoy the playground from dawn until 8 p.m. The existing playground, located between the John Colloton Pavilion (JCP) and the John Pappajohn Pavilion (JPP) at UI Hospitals & Clinics, will remain open, as will the playground near the Center for Disabilities and Development.

Getting there: Patients, families, and visitors entering the children’s hospital through the main entrance will be in the Gerdin Family Lobby (Level 1). The lobby may be reached by taking Parking Ramp 2 South elevators to the level marked “G” on the elevator buttons. The lobby will also be accessible via the connector from the John Pappajohn Pavilion (JPP) at UI Hospitals & Clinics.