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February 6, 2024

Biophilic behavioral health facilities debut in South King County

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield [enlarge]
Parks Place opened in Auburn in September.

Two new behavioral health facilities in South King County were completed in the closing months of 2023. Parks Place, a new 16-bed facility operated by Sound, opened in Auburn in September, and Aristo Behavioral Health Transitional Housing in Renton, another 16-bed facility, was completed in December.

Photo courtesy of KMD Architects/IMS [enlarge]
The reception area at Aristo Behavioral Health Transitional Housing in Renton features wood finishes and a color palette inspired by nature.

Both projects were designed by KMD Architects and reflect a consciously non-institutional approach to behavioral healthcare facility design that leverages biophilic principles to create welcoming and nurturing spaces for staff and patients.

Parks Place is a new construction 10,500-square-foot Enhanced Services Facility (ESF) at 4344 Auburn Way. ESFs are specialized residential settings that provide intensive and structured behavioral health services to individuals with complex mental health needs whose behavioral challenges do not rise to a level that requires an institutional setting.

All rooms at Parks Place are private and spread across a series of ‘neighborhoods.' Those neighborhoods are connected via hallways that create a circular walking path that also links each private bedroom to the facility's communal spaces.

Those spaces include a large social gathering room with a welcoming stone fireplace and an enclosed central courtyard, which is connected visually and physically to the residents' dining and social spaces by large windows and glass doors that frame either end. The hallways are likewise framed by clerestory windows that bathe them with natural light, further bolstering indoor/outdoor connections in the facility.

KMD says the design of Parks Place was centered around the concept of connection to nature with interiors inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. The design for each neighborhood draws inspiration from a different landscape, including rainforests, coastlines, mountains, and islands.

A neutral color palette is employed for the flooring and millwork throughout the facility, allowing for a calm and serene atmosphere. The main community gathering space features high ceilings and exposed beams.

Parks Place cost $9 million. BnBuilders was the general contractor. The project team also included AHBL which provided civil engineering and landscape design services. KMD Architects' scope of work included feasibility studies and prototyping through design and construction administration.

Aristo Behavioral Health Transitional Housing is located at 95 S. Tobin St. in Renton. This project comprised the adaptive reuse and repurposing of an office building into a new Health Intensive Behavioral Health Facility (IBHF). These facilities provide live-in care and onsite behavioral health interventions, psychosocial rehabilitation, and skill building to help people reintegrate back into their community.

The new 7,000 square foot facility is on the ground level of the former office building. Patient rooms are a mix of private and shared spaces split across two neighborhoods. There is also a dining and social space and a nurse station.

KMD's stated goal was to “transform the space into a safe and secure facility while avoiding the cold and institutional look typically associated with such institutions.” Again, this was achieved via a design inspired by nature. Paint colors, wall coverings, and wood tones in the space were carefully selected to emulate the essence of being outside.

To maintain an open and cohesive feel, a warm wood-look luxury vinyl tile (LVT) was used throughout most of the space, ensuring durability for high traffic areas and strict cleaning routines. In bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms, linoleum flooring with a warm wood tone was selected. Soft beige and gray carpet tiles with a gentle pattern were strategically placed in areas such as a conference room, quiet room, and group room to enhance acoustics.

KMD's design also takes cues from the hospitality market, adapted for a behavioral health setting. For example, the nurse station has a walnut high-pressure laminate and quartz countertop reminiscent of marble that mimics surfaces often found in hotel reception desks. Safety is prioritized in this instance with a counter design that is challenging to reach over, ensuring the well-being of staff.

Signage and wayfinding were also approached with a hospitality lens. Additional hotel-inspired features include resident mailboxes that are personalized with leather mail envelopes and wooden brackets, designed to be engraved with each resident's name.

Korsmo Construction was the general contractor for the Aristo facility. Other consultants include AHBL, which provided civil engineering and landscape design and YoungCaruso which was the kitchen/food service consultant. KMD's services included feasibility study, planning, design, construction administration, and permitting.

The conversion cost $2.2 million.

A future IBHF is planned for the second floor of the former office building. That will house an additional 16 residents for up to two years as they transition back into the community. Plumbing infrastructure on the second floor was installed as part of the first phase to minimize the impact of future construction work on the first-floor operations.

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