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An S&S-designed hospital lounge for kids

Sparkman & Stephens and Derecktor Shipyards create a sailing saloon at a children’s hospital

Sparkman & Stephens and Derecktor Shipyards create a sailing saloon at a children’s hospital

Venerable design firm Sparkman & Stephens and builder Derecktor Shipyards have collaborated on a yacht that will set sail only in the imaginations of children.

The companies teamed up to create a nautical-themed family lounge for the new Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. With dozens of donors, volunteers and dignitaries watching, Olin Stephens himself christened the “saloon” in true yacht fashion with the traditional breaking of a champagne bottle during ceremonies July 7.

Stephens, an S&S co-founder with countless designs to his credit, helped design the new room with the firm’s chief designer Bruce Johnson. “I’m so happy to be involved in this project,” says the 96-year-old Stephens, who received something of a hero’s welcome as he entered the room.

The sailing saloon is located in one of several themed wings at the new $147 million children’s hospital on the grounds of the Westchester Medical Center. Other wings feature firefighters, airplanes and art. The hospital also has an exhibit on the history of baseball in New York, an international doll display, and a 6,000-gallon fish tank.

“The whole philosophy is to create a whole healing environment,” says Jan Mittan, head of the Children’s Hospital Foundation, which raises funds for project.

The sailing saloon on the third floor of the hospital has the look and feel of a yacht. It features settees, a steering pedestal, a trophy case and burgees from local yacht clubs. A new Optimist dinghy is displayed on an outdoor terrace adjacent to the saloon.

The idea for the lounge stems from a fund-raising regatta, the Wachovia Cup, held for the first time last year. “The idea for the Wachovia Cup was conceived at my kitchen table,” says Judy DelVello, a sailor and member of the American Yacht Club in Rye, N.Y.

DelVello, Mittan and Cindy Cross, who also is involved with the hospital fund-raising campaign, thought a regatta would be an ideal way to raise money from a different group of people. The group raised $250,000 at the captain’s party. The event was so successful, the second annual Wachovia Cup (named for the event’s primary sponsor) will be held in October at the American Yacht Club.

“My goal really was to raise awareness,” says DelVello. “I didn’t expect the amount of support we received.”

With the yachting community’s interest piqued, the idea to create a yachting-themed wing evolved. Drake Sparkman, grandson of S&S co-founder Drake Sparkman and member of AYC, works at the design firm and volunteered its services. When Derecktor learned of the project, the Mamaroneck, N.Y., company donated its services.

Based on S&S sketches, Derecktor production manager Gilbert Melo built the lounge. Edson donated the steering column; Mystic (Conn.) Seaport donated the trophy case that will display the Wachovia Cup; and local yacht clubs donated the burgees. Dr. Jane Petro, a plastic surgeon on staff at Westchester and a sailor, also donated to the wing.

“The sailing community is the most passionate group of people I’ve ever met,” says Mittan.

The hospital is slated to open in mid-August. It is named for a 13-year-old girl who died at Westchester Medical Center in 1996 of a rare case of bat rabies. Her parents, John and Brenda Fareri of Greenwich, Conn., pledged $5 million of their own money to improve the hospital’s cramped pediatric department. The rest of the funds were raised through donations and bonds. The 260,000-square-foot building will have 56 private rooms for children and beds for their parents, an 18-bed pediatric intensive care unit, and a 50-bed neonatal intensive care unit.