Spec Project Spotlight: Behavioral Health Design
A mental health facility built two new state-of-the-art buildings on their Toronto, Ontario campus.
The buildings that opened in late 2020 provide a healthier, holistic patient experience by integrating the design of the new campus with the surrounding neighborhood. Located on historic Queen Street West, the campus has a long history as a mental health research and treatment facility. Originally built as an asylum in 1850, the facility has spent decades focusing on the continuous improvement of patient care. The new portion of the campus welcomes two buildings constructed with well-being and recovery in mind. Consisting of an inpatient facility and a critical care and emergency assessment unit, both buildings have plenty of natural light and green spaces that include indoor and outdoor patient areas and other patient-focused services.
Spec products from behavioral health to public seating and tables are integrated into the new design that includes soothing patient spaces and a mental health resource library that is open to the public and filled with books and resources for the community.
When entering the building, visitors are welcomed into an open foyer with Dignity2 and Drum tables before reaching a nurses station. Dignity’s heavy-duty build is placed throughout the facility in supervised and semi-supervised areas bringing continuity throughout. Dignity2 offers comfort while the design of the chair ensures durability. All seating in the patient areas consists of single seats, which give patients the ability to maintain personal space when interacting with others. Safety for both patients and caregivers directed the decision for the soft-seating solutions throughout the facility. Features such as tamper-resistant hardware, the option to add weight, and durable arm caps all factored into the product selection for the project. The Drum HD table is topped with a Corian® surface for added durability and cleanability with scratch and stain-resistant properties.
The patient lounge, day rooms, or shared areas contain a mix of products including, Snowball 2 HD, Dignity2, Midway HD, and heavy-duty tables. Snowball 2 HD chairs offer a lighter look, while the H-base design and weighted steel ensure a heavy-duty build designed to eliminate protruding legs or hardware. Specified in both standard and bariatric widths, Snowball 2 HD provides a comfortable seat for all by preventing patients from feeling alienated when trying to find a seat. Using a mix of products puts the choice in the patient’s hands and is designed to work with their comfort levels. Seating is not ganged but weighted to 95 lbs, preventing a safety risk of patients easily moving furniture.
Creating a comfortable atmosphere for patients mattered and influenced the product choice for each space. Midway HD, found in common areas throughout the buildings, offers a soothing motion with its unique flex back. Midway HD is weighted and features a sled base design, creating a lighter look for healthcare spaces. The cafeteria design gives patients and caregivers campus and nature views with plenty of natural light to promote well-being.
Snowball 2 HD can be found in the consulting rooms as well. Using the same Snowball 2 HD design creates a healthier treatment experience and provides patients with a sense of equality by having both caregiver and patient seated at the same level.
Rooms in the facility with the most privacy and least supervision include patient rooms and therapy rooms. Select roto-molded Hardi products are outfitted in these spaces due to their durable build and rounded edges with few pickup points. Hardi dining without arms is specified throughout the patient rooms, and Hardi Rocker in therapy rooms. Both products can be weighted with sand onsite if needed, and Hardi Dining can be fastened to the floor. Therapy rooms benefit from the soothing rocking motion of Hardi Rocker, which can aid in calming the patient. Constructed of polyethylene materials, Hardi is also used in a patient bathing suite. The durable nature of the roto-mold material provides an impervious surface.
A unique space in the facility includes a community library that is open to the public and full of mental health resources. The room is fully supervised, meaning that it can have non-heavy-duty products included in the design. With its friendly-looking picnic-inspired base, Annex table is used in a light-filled library area, and Snowball 2 chairs surround the table. Manhattan tables and Urban seating can be found in the library, along with Dignity2 and Drum HD tables. Design continuity throughout the space is evident with the mix of HD and standard products using the same design.
As telepsychiatry has become a widely accepted form of therapy during the ongoing pandemic and access to care a necessity, incorporating these spaces into the building became essential. The facility includes three dedicated telepsychiatry spaces. Power modules and technology are included in the design of the tables for easy connectivity. The table configurations had a custom tabletop shape that allows complete visibility when conducting therapy sessions.
Rehabilitation is a crucial aspect of treatment for specific psychiatric disorders, and the new facility includes a commercial-grade teaching kitchen for patients. Standard or non-heavy-duty products are acceptable since the patients are always supervised in the kitchen.
Another area that supports patient rehabilitation and life skills include a light-filled art studio using standard products. Manhattan tables are specified with casters and flip-top functionality for easy reconfiguration and storage when needed. Urban four point chairs have upholstered seats for comfort and plastic backs for durability. Urban chairs can be stacked neatly when not used or to make more space.
The facility’s design includes natural light, access to nature views, and murals that support healing; the fabrics and finishes used on the products can also influence patient well-being. Color selection for the new products ranges from cool blues that evoke water to warm browns found in nature and the use of brighter colors such as oranges and greens in patient lounge and activity areas. The therapy or quiet rooms use blue for the Hardi Rocker with wood tones on the Drum HD tables to bring warmth to the space. The same blue hue can be found on the fabric on Dignity2 in the entrance lobby, tying in the facility’s nature-inspired design. Bright colors often evoke excitement, whereas neutrals and earthy tones can provide a sense of calm. A balance of color throughout the new facility allows patients and caregivers defined spaces for any mood.
While the new buildings now house patients and offer valuable mental health services and resources for the community, the project’s next phase is underway.