Community Engagement: Home to Your Health

When we design a building, especially one that involves health and healing, we design it to respect and reflect the spirit of its place and the people who inhabit it.  We believe that the environment can contribute to healing when people have a sense of comfort and familiarity when they walk in the door.

RESEARCH/Ask and listen                          

The design of the new public health center was guided by a visioning and design framework developed hand-in-hand with staff, management, and community representatives, giving voice to their distinct needs and aspirations. In our group visioning sessions what we heard was, “We’re proud of the resilience and hopefulness of this community in the midst of their challenges”, and the things that make this possible are family, a sense of home, culture, and diversity.”

Through the group sessions, a design vision was developed: “Under One Roof/Home to Your Health.”

The new health center is more than a building. People often know their providers by first name, and relationships have been formed and continue to grow through generations. For many, it’s an extension of home. The reference to “home” also relates to the medical home health delivery concept, providing whole-person care, including both physical and mental health.


BUILDING THE IDEA: “Under One Roof/Home to Your Health”

The essence of the vision statement is captured through form and architectural elements, color, pattern, finish materials, artwork, lighting, furnishings, and the use of views and daylight.

The unifying roof, a prominent feature of the building design, signifies a place of safety and shelter, comfort and caring. The broad, overhanging roof creates a large public porch to our home and “places in between” - seating areas and places to socialize, as well as performance and exhibit space for art, dance, music, and storytelling.

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Colors and patterns have been inspired by diverse cultures in the area, reflecting the rich and ethnically diverse population but also recognizing that that population will be constantly evolving. Color is also inspired by local art, such as the dynamic and vibrant graffiti-like art wrapping the local youth arts facility.

The center is heavily used by families and patients of all ages. A rigorous selection process was used for materials, considering dozens of performance criteria in coordination with the medical center’s facilities maintenance department.  Materials have a touchability and variety of textures, while being durable and easy to care for.

Community Engagement/Artwork          

Continuity with the past is important in creating a sense of familiarity and comfort.  This is provided by  artwork which was featured prominently in the former facility, created by the local collective, ArtsChange, and the surrounding community. 

Culture, diversity, and resilience are further expressed through artwork. Art  is integrated into the architecture, bringing focus to key areas such as registration and clinic entries, each with its own unique presence and focal color. Registration areas are highlighted by vibrant 20-by-7-foot curved, backlit art panels above each desk. The vibrant panel images created by artist, Marion Coleman, are scaled representations of her collection of health-themed quilts.

Color, materials, pattern, artwork, and signage all work together for wayfinding.

Our medical home: The medical home care model is supported by planning concepts, where clinics and physicians on the second floor rotate in and out twice a day. Due to the dynamic nature of this clinic, flexibility, consistency, and teamwork are imperative to provide patients with the highest level of care.

Realizing the vision
The design of West County Health Center strives to capture in built form the essence of home: safety and shelter, comfort and caring. That sense of home, in concert with a generous connection with the outdoors; simple, intuitive wayfinding; and an uplifting, inspiring connection with local art, all make the new health center a special place of healing for this community.
I watched patients come through the door for the first time, and saw their anxiety melt away as they looked around. They saw a place that recognized and celebrated their humanity and their roots, a place where they belonged.”
WCHC security guard, 15 year experience with the County