In recent history, few state-of-the-art psychiatric in-patient facilities have been constructed as our nation has inadequately invested in the care of the mentally ill. Located in Glen Oaks, Queens, NY, the Inpatient Care Center for Zucker Hillside Hospital is a rare example of how the power of design can be used to deliver an environment that brings dignity, security and compassion to the treatment of this long-neglected patient population, while continuing the tradition of valuing a connection to nature and greenery as a component of psychiatric well-being.
Organized around a central courtyard with landscaped therapy gardens and an entrance lobby rotunda, the building serves adolescent, adult and geriatric patients in clearly defined wings within the complex. The plan addresses three specific circulation types: family and visitors, patient, and staff, and keeps keep the three segregated for safety, privacy and decorum. Visitor and family circulation borders the central courtyard and is punctuated by seating areas along the corridors. Patient circulation allows for free movement in and around activities areas, dining areas and patient units. The building’s central core houses consultant offices and support spaces that connect to a staff corridor, permitting the constant flow of staff throughout the building.
The building is conceived as a series of concentric and nesting bars of discrete color and materiality. The red and grey outer shell houses the individual patient bedrooms and is domestically scaled. The middle, white bar contains all the communal spaces of the units, and represents the power of the institution as a healing authority. The interior bar has a taught and crystalline façade that allows visitors to visually connect to the idyllic landscape beyond through a “green screen” planted solar shade armature.