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Cambridge Health Alliance - Somerville Campus

July 2023
Member Project


Unicel Architectural



The 130-year-old Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) Somerville Campus is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School (HMS) north of Boston offering urgent care, primary care, women’s health, and inpatient psychiatry services for children and youth.

When it embarked on a significant renovation of two floors to make them more suitable for behavioral health treatments, project architect Lavallee Brensinger Architects brought in Unicel Architectural to help upgrade the facility’s legacy window system. Unicel Architectural was contracted to furnish nearly 40 window units, including spandrel panels and its award-winning, AAMA 501.8 certified Vision Control for Behavioral Health for exterior and interior applications.



To make the two floors suitable for behavioral health treatments through a variety of renovations, including the addition of window systems that protect against violent force and shattering.



The Somerville campus renovation's requirements included more natural light along with precision daylight, temperature, and sound control via a window system able to keep both staff and patients safe and withstand the rigors of a behavioral health facility.



The 40 Vision Control for Behavioral Health window units provide:

- American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 501.8 performance certification for resistance to human impacts (2,000 ft-lbs), to protect against violent force and shattering
- Discreet monitoring through adjustable louvers that can be positioned to provide viewing from one area to another, but not in the opposite direction
- Comfort and natural light along with precision temperature, daylight, privacy, and sound control through advanced hollow-chambered louvers
- Ligature-resistant louver operators such as knobs, thumbwheels, or even motorized operation for patient safety
- A Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating on par with concrete block walls
- Hermetically sealed for minimal cleaning and maximum hygiene
- LEED-compliant daylight and thermal efficiencies


Key Findings, Measurable Results &/or Next Steps

Lavallee Brensinger combined Unicel Architectural’s louvered insulating glass units (IGUs) for behavioral health with other treatment and safety features such as texture and colors on walls and floors, plenty of artwork, organic floor tile patterns, soft materials, and rounded furniture. It all adds up to a safer, more tranquil healing environment for staff, patients, and their families.