3D modeling accelerates operating room renovation at American Family Children’s Hospital

American Family Children's Hospital 4

The general operating rooms at American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) are used for a variety of surgical operations across multiple disciplines, all of which require different room configurations. Improvements were necessary to bring a number of rooms up to code. AFCH partnered with Zimmerman to renovate eight operating rooms and replace the surgical booms and lights to provide improved technology and patient care, with the goal of being more adaptable to accommodate the wide variety of procedures.

AFCH faced the challenge of accommodating a wide range of surgical procedures while maintaining a conducive environment for medical students to observe. The team at Zimmerman worked closely with the client to design operating room layouts that allowed for optimal teaching and learning experiences. Clear sightlines were established to ensure medical students could observe without interfering with surgical procedures.

In collaboration with equipment vendors, Zimmerman provided real-life representations of the room and surgical boom layout, helping stakeholders better understand the design. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced operations to go virtual, weekly meetings were held with surgical groups to identify equipment and layout needs. Virtual 3D models were created, allowing stakeholders to review and provide feedback in real time, expediting the approval process.

To address code compliance issues, the operating room ceilings were replaced with a prefabricated SLD ceiling system. This system combined the HVAC diffusers, lights, and boom mounts into one unit, and created a sealed environment to reduce the risk of surgical site infections. Indigo-Clean technology, providing UV light sterilization, was also installed to further reduce infection risk.

By assembling the ceiling system off-site and involving all stakeholders early in the design process, the Zimmerman team successfully met the aggressive project timeline. Our consensus-building approach ensured the final design solution matched the needs of each stakeholder.


Madison, WI


6,010 sq. ft.

Services Provided:

Architectural Planning and Design, Structural Analysis, Structural Engineering, Interior Design

Scott Gosnell


Vice President | Director, Healthcare

As the Director of our Healthcare Studio, Scott leads a team of healthcare planning and design experts who are focused in evidence-based design, Lean healthcare design principles, and biophilic design. Before exclusively concentrating his professional efforts on healthcare facility projects, his main areas of focus were in the firm's healthcare and hospitality project categories. This unique combination of experience has resulted in projects that embody an environment of care that values patient experience in quality, brand, convenience, and amenities as well as staff efficiency and well-planned spaces. Scott has been with Zimmerman for nearly 20 years, having joined the firm shortly after earning his Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.