FIRST LOOK: VA Dallas Long-Term Care Spinal Cord Injury Facility
The Long-Term Care Spinal Cord Injury Facility (LT-SCI) at the VA Dallas campus was planned and designed to provide a home for multiple generations of veterans with spinal cord injuries (SCI) of varying degrees of severity.
Currently in development, construction documents for the facility have been completed. The project, which has been designed to meet LEED Silver certification, is waiting for congressional funding.
A collaborative team comprised of design professionals—including architect PageSoutherlandPage (Dallas)—SCI clinical specialists, physicians and staff, along with engagement from representatives of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and future campus residents, was heavily involved from programming through design of this new facility.
When a patient becomes a long-term resident on a hospital campus, how the physical environment is designed can help ease the patient’s transition, while also creating a home and fostering a community among the residents. To achieve this, the team facilitated a design process that explored and evaluated design goals and guidelines linked with desired outcomes for the facility’s future occupants.
The design discovery process encompassed visioning sessions; goal setting; benchmarking of other SCI facilities; surveying SCI residents, family members, and staff; and utilizing several visualization techniques to study and understand the clinical and residential environment.
The VA Dallas LT-SCI was designed to empower residents to play an active role in their healing process. The primary goal for the facility is to create an environment that promotes privacy, dignity, independence, and mobility for its residents in order to improve their quality of life. The 120,000-square-foot facility will eventually house up to 60 SCI residents and uses a house/town planning model that supports improved individual and community living.
However, the challenge of the design was not only to create a homelike environment, but to do so within an urban hospital campus. The main spine of the facility, which runs east to west, ties into a multilevel atrium lobby that will connect to existing SCI departments. This spine also serves as the Main Street for the resident community, with destination points and social gathering areas.
The design palette responds to the function within each zone: a cooler palette is used in the community areas and a warmer palette was chosen for the residential areas.
Resident wings branch north and south from the spine, creating six-bedroom community houses. Within each community house, residents will have the flexibility to customize their bedrooms to express personality and accommodate their level of accessibility. The residents of each community house will share a common living room, kitchen area, and business center.
The bedrooms and common living areas include outdoor balconies with access and views to multiple courtyards. With each outdoor space differing in landscape and activity zones, variety is created for occupants who may reside there for several years. Outdoor meditation, gardening, shuffle board, game tables, and dining are among the various activities that will be provided.
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