UTHealth Engages Perkins+Will to Design the Country’s Largest Psychiatric Health Facility

February 26, 2019

A joint venture between the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission, the project will be the first public mental health facility in Houston in more that 30 years. Working with Vaughn Construction as construction manager-at-risk, Perkins+Will was engaged by the University of Texas to design a facility that will promote the health and well being of patients and staff alike.

Perkins+Will designed the interiors of the facility to reduce agitation and encourage healing, doing so through lighting, acoustics, and visual aspects throughout. In particular, the firm was sure to be mindful of the effect of natural daylight and darkness on circadian rhythms, which have a direct influence on an individual’s emotional and mental state, as well as the impact of noise levels on the stress level of both patients and staff. An overhang above the entrance will help visitors transition seamlessly into a calmer, quieter space.

Perkins+Will designed each space in the complex to naturally aid appropriate and beneficial interactions between patients and staff. To that end, the design team ensured that residential units are situated around a central living area, promoting engagement amongst residents. The hospital will initially contain 240 beds with 10 residential units, allowing for the option to adjust as the needs of the institution grow along with it.  Additional amenities include a therapy mall, activity room, and a communal dining area with views onto an internal courtyard, as well as an external courtyard leading to a large, tree-filled area.

The UTHealth Continuum of Care Campus for Behavioral Health is located next door to the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center. Both facilities will be managed and staffed by UTHealth’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at McGovern Medical School. The combined campus will, upon completion at the end of 2021, assume the title of largest academic psychiatric hospital in the country.


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