× You are not currently logged in. To receive all the benefits our site has to offer, we encourage you to log in now.

Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, Expansion, and Renovation, Crewe, VA

June 2018
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
A Community Space with Ample Daylight, HDR, 2017


Firm's Role on the Project: To improve VCBR’s capacity to treat residents in a safe and multi-tiered environment that allows for increased responsibility and self-management as residents progress through the behavioral treatment program.

EBD Goal

VCBR is a behavioral health facility serving a unique and highly complex population of formerly incarcerated residents. The goal of the project was to create a safe and therapeutic environment that promotes successful rehabilitation and transition back to society.


The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) operates the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation (VCBR), a facility for sexually violent persons who, after serving their criminal sentences, are committed by the courts to the facility for behavior modification treatment. In 2013, DBHDS asked HDR to prepare a preplanning study to help determine the feasibility of expanding VCBR. Upon completion of the study and project approval, HDR was selected to design VCBR’s 2015 expansion and renovation.


The guiding principle of the project was to improve VCBR’s capacity to treat residents in a safe and multi-tiered environment that allows for increased responsibility and self-management as residents progress through the behavioral treatment program. This led to the decision to conduct an ongoing research study that will evaluate the hypothesis that the architectural design of the VCBR expansion may be associated with improved resident outcomes—both during treatment and after their release.


Relevant design features included space and circulation planning intended to mitigate security incidents. Transitional resident spaces were also incorporated to facilitate the development of residents’ daily living skills (crucial factors in their ability to successfully transition back into the community). Specific emphasis was placed on the creation of a treatment-friendly environment that emulates a small community to provide a normative experience for patients and staff alike. The facility currently lacks a modern, functional treatment mall—a critical aspect of the project. Once introduced, however, the new mall will unite existing and new components of the project in a “beyond state-of-the-art” approach to planning, design, and operations. Key program components include the large, centralized treatment mall; a park-like garden directly off the mall; educational, vocational, physical, and leisure activity spaces; and a variety of treatment areas (medical, dental, and behavioral health). Additionally, a 258-bed housing expansion will be established for special needs residents (e.g., medically and psychiatrically complex, intellectually disabled, and detainee and detention cases) as well as transitional populations


The pre- and post-design intervention evaluation includes analyses of outcomes from within-subjects (same residents) and independent subjects (different residents) in the current and the new/renovated facilities. Measurements include aggressive incident frequency and severity, incidence of suicide-related behaviors, and frequency of conditional release failures, with analyses controlling for a range of potential confounding factors. Baseline data collected in the fall of 2016 revealed that the residents most prone to aggressive incidents, with the highest incident frequency, were neither mentally nor intellectually disabled. While the majority of residents involved in aggressive incidents targeted fellow residents, those with mental disabilities were more likely to target staff. The data also indicated that the aggressive, non-mentally disabled population specifically targeted the mentally disabled residents. Based on the project team’s expertise in behavioral health best practices, a recommendation to separate these populations was implemented. Follow-up data will be collected prior to the start of construction in the fall of 2018, and again once the new/renovated facility is in operation (projected for 2021). HDR is willing to share the research plan and design and baseline resident findings.


While The Center believes that the information in this resource is valid, it has not fact-checked the information or tested any findings. The Center disclaims any warranties, expressed or implied, regarding this content.