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Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital

October 2012
Member Project



Firm’s role on the project: Programmers, Schematic Designers, and Associate Architect with Ellenzweig Through Construction


Project vision/goals 

This project began with the participation of more than 100 staff members of the Massachusetts Department Mental Health (DMH) in the programming process. Program approval required the consensus of over 300 stakeholders, psychiatric treatment professionals, and specialized planners and designers. A central programmatic goal was to create an architectural response which directly supports a therapeutic program in order to promote emergence and recovery of patients in the hospital facility.

This new facility treats long-term stay patients and includes adult, adolescent, and forensic beds. It melds the therapeutic and architectural programs such that the building becomes a recovery-focused clinical tool. Familiar elements analogous to the larger community (House, Neighborhood, and downtown) are arranged to reflect the range of environments in which people typically conduct their lives. The private bedrooms, the most basic element, are clustered in Houses having active and quiet living rooms. These Houses provide the basic social unit of eight to ten residents within a twenty-six bed inpatient unit.

Therapeutic treatment facilities (Neighborhoods) are arranged as the patients’ domain and shared by three inpatient units. Viewable from the Neighborhoods, the Downtown provides activity centers along interior streets and squares, surrounding the Village Green – a secure outdoor communal activity space. The Downtown centralizes the most social activities (café, arcade, store, music room and health club), surrounded by quieter activities (chapel, greenhouse, library, and art rooms).

Patient access to the Downtown is available to patients on a privilege basis. The downtown provides an active space containing resources that are shared by the entire Hospital. This provides patients with a sense of existing within a broader community while encouraging them to look outward to emergence from a clinical inpatient setting to life outside of the Hospital. The program as a whole encourages patients to take an active role in their treatment.

The Hospital’s quiet side is expressed as a residential complex, while the Village Green façade is more municipal in its expression. Variation breaks down the facility’s scale and recalls the variety and commonalities of a New England village. The building layout affords maximum view of the surrounding landscape and adjacent public park. Disturbed area surrounding the new facility will be planted with indigenous meadow grasses, shrubs, and trees. Rainwater is being harvested for irrigation of the heavily used secure courtyards.

Construction was completed in August of 2012. The building has received LEED Gold certification.
Ellenzweig/architecture+, Associated Architects