March 2, 2020

Behavioral Health Business: CannonDesign Improving Care Delivery with Architecture

Our behavioral health practice and its important work across the country is profiled in a new piece from Behavioral Health Business.

The article titled, “CannonDesign Improving Behavioral Health Care Delivery with Architecture,” recognizes that growing importance of mental healthcare design in North America. The piece highlights our work with Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), and Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health in Canada.

The full article is available online. Here’s a key excerpt:

On the importance of designing customized care spaces
There’s no one size fits all solution, and behavioral health designs should vary by facility type and objectives. CannonDesign believes in a customization approach, and that’s part of the reason it’s earning behavioral health acclaim.

One such facility embodying CannonDesign’s ethos is VTCC in Richmond, which opened in 2016 and holds 32 inpatient beds across 118,800 sf.

VTCC has won multiple accolades for its design, including being named a finalist by FastCompany last year in its annual World Changing Ideas awards competition. The facility, which can be expanded to hold 48 beds, is designed as a “pavilion in the park,” according to CannonDesign.

It consists of a one-story inpatient building with therapy and treatment areas and an outdoor space for recreational activities. The inpatient building is connected to a two-story administrative building that also provides outpatient services.

The campus also makes extensive use of glass to let in natural sunlight, departing from the more sterile forms of design that are traditionally seen in behavioral health architecture.

“Some design features of that facility [challenge] … norms in design and really looked to… foster a more progressive way of providing care,” our David Sass said. “A couple of those things are the attention to keeping … clusters of patients relatively small.”

To accomplish this, the firm designed self-contained units in the building that hold 16 beds each.

Each unit has an “activity zone” where children can engage in treatment, therapy and recreational activities. For instance, children who aren’t immediately receiving therapy at those times — or who maybe want to go read a book or play games — can go to other rooms to engage in different activities.

By keeping the patient capacity of certain spaces small, therapists can better separate children by age, gender or specific diagnosis, and maintain better order over the management and care of young patients.

“I think a well designed behavioral health hospital will allow clinicians to provide more care to their patients throughout the day,” added our Stephanie Vito.

CannonDesign hopes to remain busy helping providers deliver better services and care through smarter architecture going forward.

“We see a lot of facilities that are in aging infrastructure, with poorly designed plans,” Vito added. “The clinicians are constantly struggling to combat these negative conditions within the facility and spend a lot of time doing so rather than actually spending time delivering care to the patients. I think the challenge is to really work with the clinicians on their delivery models.”

Learn more about our behavioral health practice >