When children and their families begin checking into the new Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southeastern Michigan on March 25, executive director Jennifer Litomisky hopes they feel like walking into a home.
The 26,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the former Hutzel Hospital has been under renovation since September. The move was designed to make room for a new patient tower at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the charity’s former space.
“We spent 35 years there, and I say that with a heavy sigh because we have a lot of memories there,” Litomisky said. “We served about 53,000 families there.”
The new Ronald McDonald House, a $4.3 million project, is 10,000-square feet larger than the old space and includes amenities such as long-term stay guest rooms and a teen recreation room.
Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates and Kraemer Design Group served as designers and architects for the new house, and Sterling Heights-based Roncelli Inc. was the general contractor.
“Our main challenge was hospitals have small patient rooms and bathrooms, while hotels have more space,” said Paul Royal, architect for Hamilton Anderson Associates.
To compensate, the team narrowed the corridors by a foot and a half to two feet, expanding the space available for the guest rooms. There are five long-term stay rooms, which are equipped with refrigerators, and 23 regular guest rooms. The organization charges $10 a night for the rooms, but Litomisky said they’ve never turned away a family who could not pay the fee.
The facility also features a large, open floor plan dining room and kitchen. The kitchen storage includes a walk-in deep freezer to store food donations. The common area has large cushioned couches, bright decorations and a fireplace. A decorative glass wall separates the common area from the kids’ playroom, allowing parents and guardians to watch their children while they relax. The playroom, which features easels and play structures, was decorated by the Detroit Red Wings. The team committed more than $25,000 to both the kids’ room and the teen room, Litomisky said.
The teens’ room sits next to the playroom, with a circular whiteboard table in the center that reads “Welcome Home” from the Red Wings.
“We were finding more and more siblings hanging out in the childrens’ room or with their parents, and we wanted a separate space for them to relax or do their homework,” Litomisky said.
One of the house’s major donors, Livonia-based MJS Packaging, will be supplying an Xbox One for the teens’ room in the near future.
“What was most important to us is to make the families comfortable. We wanted this [space] to be inviting and comforting, but still colorful and fun,” Carla Wolf, interior designer for Hamilton Anderson Associates, said.
Kimberly Sansone, senior interior designer for Kraemer Design Group, described the process as taking a building and turning it into a home.
“We used lots of organic features in the art,” Sansone said. “It’s a cross between a hotel and a home, so we had a focus on togetherness within the different seating areas.”
The new house is nearly a mile from the Children’s Hospital, which prompted the organization to seek funds for transportation. The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Michigan donated $50,000 for the Ronald McDonald House to purchase a Chrysler van, wrap it with their logo and hire a driver.
DMC contributed $3.45 million toward the cost for the new house, and Ronald McDonald House contributed the remaining $850,000. The Ronald McDonald House launched a $3 million campaign to cover its capital costs, expanded services, operations and its endowment, Crain’s reported in August. According to Litomisky, $1.5 million has been raised.
“The 250-bed tower will increase the housing need on campus, so this is going to become a very important place,” Litomisky said. “Even after I’m gone I can’t imagine them not expanding this.”