Project category: New construction (completed March 2006)

Chief administrator: Steve Lindquist, Director, Behavioral Health Services, (605) 322-4051

Firm: BWBR Architects, Inc., (651) 222-3701

Design team: Brian Buchholz, AIA, CID, ACHA, Principal-in-Charge; Rick Dahl, AIA, Project Manager; Steve Busse, AIA, LEED AP, Exterior Design Leader; Don Thomas, CID, Interior Design Leader; Jason Nordling, AIA, Project Architect; Glenn Manni, ACHA, Medical Planner

Photography: ©2006 Ken Peterson

Total building area (sq. ft.): 130,000

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $184

Total construction cost (excluding land): $23,900,000

While most U.S. behavioral health facilities are hidden deep in medical complexes, Avera McKennan Hospital made the bold choice to consolidate its mental health services into the first new stand-alone behavioral facility west of the Mississippi River in the past 15 years. The facility integrates inpatient care, outpatient care, and research activities, increasing continuity for patients and their families. Relocation to Avera's Heart Hospital campus provides a direct connection to an ER, especially important for patients admitted after emergency care situations.

Planning priorities for inpatient units included protecting confidentiality, ensuring safety, and providing care with dignity. Innovative solutions include a double-corridor system to create a nonthreatening, secure separation of patients from the public and daily support services and to eliminate the negative experience of passing through a locked-door system. Curved nurses' stations wrap into the units to provide visibility and control without being overbearing to patient privacy. The colorful central dayrooms are open and flexible, with skylights and soft lighting. Interior corridors between units allow staff to flex the units' sizes with a series of lockable doors that accommodate census changes easily and maintain unit security. The Light Court at the main entry offers a positive first impression, reducing the anxiety of entering a behavioral hospital and providing space for quiet decompression after outpatient visits.

The 130,000-sq.-ft. building includes 85,000 square feet of hospital space, 36,000 square feet of medical offices, and a 9,700-sq.-ft. link/shared lobby.