A Design
for Hope

To help reduce the need for intensive inpatient behavioral healthcare treatments, the Ohana Center focuses on early intervention and prevention of mental illness through an uplifting environment that promotes accessible, family-centered resources for children and teens.

An increasing number of people report suffering from mental health issues. This is further compounded by treatment that typically takes place in “institutional-like” facilities that isolate rather than heal. Yet new healthcare environments, such as the Ohana Center, which offers inpatient, outpatient and community care for children and adolescents, is changing this narrative.

The design of Ohana, which means extended family in Hawaiian, unites the latest in neuroscience research to provide a healing environment for patients and their families, and also boost wellbeing for behavioral health caregivers, who have annual turnover rate of more than 40%. Key features for patients and staff include vegetable gardens for therapy, an outdoor amphitheater for group classes and private patios for caregivers to recharge.

The design creates a series of large outdoor cloisters, patios and terraced spaces from more public to private that provide calm, restoration and safety. Flowing water winds through the site; prospect and refuge spaces give patients privacy alongside wide vistas of nature; and gardens with immune-boosting plants like lavender and rosemary offer spaces for therapy and music.

Ohana redefines the behavioral healthcare environment with natural, cost-effective materials like cross-laminated timber (CLT), a type of pre-fabricated engineered wood that is rarely used in healthcare projects. As one of the largest healthcare buildings to use CLT, the facility benefits from its low carbon impact, its modular components that can be assembled off-site to reduce cost and schedules, and its anxiety-lowering properties. Its simple geometry allows the project to achieve a high-impact, low-cost design so the majority of the budget goes toward the care, rather than the building itself.

By focusing on early mental illness intervention and prevention though accessible behavioral health resources, the Ohana Center seeks to decrease the need for intensive inpatient care and treatment. The building plays a transformative role in supporting behavioral health alongside a full continuum of care, while serving as a prototype for other facilities across the country.

Uniting Neuroscience Research with Design to Boost Patient and Caregiver Wellbeing

A look at how neuroscience insights guide the design of the project and serve as a prototype for future behavioral health facilities across the country.