Nationwide Children’s Hospital wants to send a message that behavioral health is an illness just like cancer or asthma. So, it’s partnering with architecture firms NBBJ (Columbus, Ohio) and Architecture+ (Troy, N.Y.), to build the country’s largest freestanding, full-service psychiatric facility on its children's hospital campus in Columbus, Ohio. By locating the new facility directly on its main campus, Nationwide Children aims to reduce the stigma associated with behavioral health disorders as well as make it easier to access treatment and services.

The 386,000-square-foot building is expected to open in 2020 with 48 inpatient beds (with capacity for future expansion) divided into three units: adolescent inpatient, child inpatient, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The facility will also house a youth crisis stabilization unit, consisting of 16 beds, and a psychiatric crisis center with 10 beds. Unlike many facilities, the psychiatric crisis center will not be a sub-department within the ED but a separate program led by psychiatrists.

The building will support the entire pediatric behavioral health continuum of care and include space for outpatient treatment as well as researchers who are focused specifically on children and mental illness.

When completed, the building will be a bright, airy space filled with natural light that contributes to a healing environment. Located in an urban setting, the building will feature two large outdoor courtyards and outdoor screened porches on every inpatient level. The facility will also include a half-court indoor gym and a dedicated outdoor play deck.

One design challenge for the team is making sure that the facility emphasizes safety, while still creating an uplifting environment for patients, families, and staff. To that end, custom furniture is being made for the facility that will be attractive as well as protect children from hurting themselves or others. The building will also feature a family resource center and chapel. Depending on a patient’s treatment plan, some parents can be invited to stay overnight in their child’s room.

The project received a $50 million donation from Big Lots and Big Lots Foundation and will be named the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion.