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Communicare—Chemical Dependency Unit

May 1, 2004
by root
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Oxford, Mississippi
For many years, Communicare’s local chem ical dependency counseling program was conducted in an old church accommodating a dozen or so beds—and for men only. A few years ago, the company decided to upgrade its facilities, and in a big way. On just fewer than three acres of county land near the local VA hospital, C ommunicare built and leased back to the county a three-story structure that would bring the company’s chemical dependency programming for Oxford, Mississippi, into the 21st century.

The new building (completed in September 2001) accommodates 48 residents in double-oc cupancy rooms, including 12 women exclusively on the third floor. To ensure separation of the sexes and minimize that complicating fa ctor in this nonlockdown building, the second and third floors each have exclusive stairways. All resident interactions—and visitors 8212;within the three-story-high first-floor lobby are closely monitored 24/7 by staff in surrounding offices. The building also includes of fices for five counselors, kitchen and dining facilities serving three meals a day, flexibly sized group therapy rooms, conference rooms, an d lounges. Two of the resident suites are handicapped-accessible.

The goal for this $2.2 million, 14,900-sq.-ft. structure was to pro vide patients with safe, pleasant living quarters and plenty of spaces for discussion and group interaction. The dining area was designed to be conveniently bisected by a folding partition to provide smaller, more intimate dining and discussion areas, when desired. Other meeting rooms were situated for maximum exposure to the scenic wooded hills around the facility, which also encompass a quarter-mile nature trail bu ilt by a local Boy Scouts troop.

According to the design firm, Howorth & Associates Architects of Oxford, Mississippi (, the design opened up and encouraged the development of varying kinds of group programming. Residents even have a patio for relaxing and smoking outside—and many of the initial group of residents laid th e patio paving themselves. BHM Photos © Tim Hursley
For information, contact Tom Howorth, FAIA, Howorth & Associates Architects, at tom@howortharc