Kings County Hospital Center's new 230-bed, 300,000-square-foot “R” Building provides a consolidated, modern healing environment, and features one of the largest psychiatric emergency rooms in the country. The new building was designed to meet the unique needs of the hospital's behavioral health program. Because patients' stays are relatively short (approximately 28 days), the hospital had an inventive idea to organize inpatient and outpatient services for each program on separate, secure sides of the same floor. This creates a continuum of care that effectively separates inpatients and outpatients, while promoting familiarity and easing patients' transitions between the two stages of treatment.

A key project challenge was to design safe, suicide-preventive interiors while creating a noninstitutional, supportive environment. The design team worked directly with plumbing, hardware, furniture, and accessories manufacturers to develop innovative building fixtures that foster patient safety and comply with appropriate codes and standards. Considerable time was spent in developing sophisticated electronic security systems to contain and monitor the inpatient population while facilitating staff movement.

The design was developed to maximize visibility through extensive use of borrowed light from many windows, creating a bright environment with a feeling of “openness,” and making the space inherently easier to navigate and supervise. The building exterior complements the iconic red brick buildings of the hospital, providing a contemporary reflection of the hospital's historic heritage. Precast concrete exterior walls, window mullions, and glass provide continuity with the previous three phases of the campus modernization.

Jury Comment: The Conference/Group Room has a soaring, day-lit space that extends up and out through the windows. This space would be uplifting for the users.

Healthcare Design 2009 September;9(9):264