Community Mental Health Center

Article excerpt

Lutherwood Children's Mental Health Centre WATERLOO, ON

Stantec Architecture Ltd. TORONTO, ON

Lutherwood is proof that the "Visioning Approach" works, enabling design for behavioral health to address the paradoxes of openness vs. security, control vs. empowerment, privacy vs. supervision, and operational efficiency vs. optimal experience. A transformative project for children of ages 12 to 17, it embraces a model of recovery through design that respects the individual, staff, family, and community.

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While Lutherwood is renowned for its innovative approaches to children's mental health, the center's aging school, treatment, research centre, and residence were ill-suited to support the latest treatment approaches. The project sought to provide a new central "heart", improve flow and public-private transition, present a transparent image to the community, and ensure a secure, uplifting environment of self-discovery.

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A double-height gathering space acts as the new "heart," housing a Centre of Excellence, community meeting space for child and family therapy, and a National Institute for Children's and Youth Mental Health. The narrowing of the interior street reflects transition from public space (community gatherings, school graduations, movie nights on the large west wall) to more private art and music therapy, classrooms, and counseling. Transparency is pervasive from the central heart along the internal street toward the woodlands beyond, and through lofty ceilings and clerestory lighting.

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Imperceptible safety and security features respect children's privacy and security: key areas are strategically located, including the caf (which also functions as youth job skills training center) the reception area, and the interior street-facing therapy rooms. …