Recently I was asked to join a team of jurors for Behavioral Healthcare's 2012 Design for Health and Human Services Showcase (last year's coverage can be found here)—an offer that I was honored to accept.
Of the 14 different behavioral healthcare facility designs submitted, no two were alike—nor should they have been. Some were garnered towards adolescents or general psychiatrics, others towards withdrawal management or dementia patients.
In order to provide thorough and professional opinions of such an array of designs, the magazine editors assigned the jurors the task of assessing the facility design submissions based on their particular areas of expertise. With certifications in evidence-based design (EDAC) and environmental design (LEED), my role was to evaluate each submission based not on their exteriors, but rather on their realistic day-to-day functionalities as well as their environmental sustainability.
To say the least, my task-at-hand proved challenging, particularly so because each and every entry was noteworthy in its own regard.
Throughout the designs, I noticed a few trends that are indicative of a new era in behavioral healthcare facilities. For one, the efforts put into pre-planning were greatly expanded. For example, collaboration with key stakeholders early in the visioning process resulted in a more effective and functional layout.
Another trend was that of sustainable design features, from the use of natural and recycled materials to applying various daylighting techniques.
These trends are indicative of a promising future in behavioral healthcare, not only for patients and staff, but also for the environment.
I would like to thank the editors and staff of Behavioral Healthcare for allowing me “first peek” at some pretty remarkable design submissions. I’m confident that subscribers and readers will enjoy and appreciate the variety of compelling designs in this year’s Design Showcase