Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Design for Health and Human Services Showcase

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Design for Health and Human Services Showcase

Article excerpt

This year Behavioral Healthcare invited design firms and provider organizations to submit their innovative building projects for our first Design for Health and Human Services Showcase. A panel of three highly regarded experts in this field reviewed them:

Michael Meehan, AIA, LEED AP, is an architect with BWBR Architects in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he serves as the professional development manager. His project experience includes a variety of corporate, higher education, and medical projects, including behavioral healthcare buildings (See 1108). In 2007, Meehan served as chair of the national AIA Young Architects Forum, and he received an AIA Young Architects Award in 2008.


Aneetha McLellan, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, is director of interior architecture at HDR's Omaha, Nebraska, office where she has been an interior designer since 1996. she has been the project designer for numerous healthcare projects and has extensive experience in conceptual planning, space planning, interior architectural design and coordination, furniture coordination and packages, and user group meetings.


David M. Sine, CSP, ARM, CPHRM, is President and founder of SafetyLogic Systems. He has been the state safety director of two Eastern states, the senior staff engineer for the Joint Commission, and a senior consultant for the American Hospital Association. He acts as a risk management advisor to the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and is a co-author of the Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities: Edition 3.0.


The jury praised designs that were not overly fancy but rather simple yet sophisticated. The jurors were impressed when designers created unique spaces with spot-on selection of colors and interior finishes, such as painting accent walls to give a room additional character. They did, however, express concern when shades of beige were used extensively.

"Adding color gives some depth and interest to a space that can be very scary and uninviting," said one juror, and another added, "Paint is one of the cheapest finishes available, and yet it can make a dramatic impact on the mood and character of a space."

Jurors cited the importance of having daylight permeate a building as well as providing multiple views of the outdoors, both of which can be accomplished creatively (such as by providing patients with window seats). Being "green" by using sustainable architecture strategies and pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification (a green design industry building standard) received high marks, as did using evidence-based research to guide the design process. The jury also commended design teams that involved staff, administrators, and patients in the structure's planning.

Jurors, however, were concerned that some facilities used furniture and furnishings they considered inappropriate for behavioral healthcare environments (such as cabinet hardware and curtain rods that could serve as ligatures). "There are alternatives that don't look institutional and do look homelike," commented one juror.

The jury was particularly impressed by two projects and awarded them citations of merit.

Lindner Center of HOPE

The jury was impressed with this project's "marvelous" use of daylighting throughout the facility (including in patient room corridors) as well as abundant views of the surrounding landscape and gardens. (See page 22.) Jury members praised the design's use of a variety of finishes (which helps patients with wayfinding), including patterned floors.

"The interior palette makes great use of color, material, and light to create an open feeling and connection to the outdoors," explained one juror.

Another jury member noted that the building conveyed a sense of safety and security and that "I would feel good about leaving a friend here. …

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