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Choices Mental Health Facility

Ottawa, IL

Completed 2010

LEED Platinum


The Choices Facility is designed as a place for people that is both welcoming and comfortable; a place that respects nature and is responsible in the use of nature’s gifts.


The building is the result of a careful study of this site’s unique location and orientation. Benefits from the study include building placement that welcomes visitors while protecting them, orientation that invites daylight yet maintains privacy, and site planning that nestles the building into the contours of nature rather than imposing it on the site.


The concept intentionally departs from traditional healthcare design and image, which encourages the client to enter without preconceived notions of care. The design employs a layering of experiences, both physical and psychological, intended to transition the client from their daily environments into a place of nurturing care & tranquility.


The form is low like natures horizon and thus comfortable. Flowing, soft, curving walls clad in natural materials of wood, stone and plants reach out into nature reinforcing the connection of building and site. These same walls create the internal layering of spaces from public to private, peeling away and projecting through to allow views and daylight, perhaps an implicit metaphor for the treatment to come.


Every aspect of the design is created to maximize the patients’ comfort while increasing the effectiveness of treatment. Taking into account the positive effects of nature on the healing process, the design provides daylight as well as constant fresh-air & outdoor views from all treatment spaces, which fosters a connection with nature to promote a tranquil atmosphere for both patients and caregivers. Interior finishes filled with the natural textures of architectural stone, wood, bamboo and slate together with soft, muted colors and diffused indirect lighting reinforce that connection and create a calming atmosphere.


The outdoor spaces have been carefully and deliberately designed as healing gardens that provide extensions of the treatment areas within beautiful settings.

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