Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Worcester, United States
architecture+

The most advanced of its kind to date, this 320-bed acute-care psychiatric hospital melds state-of-the-art therapeutic programmes and architecture such that the building becomes a recovery-focused clinical tool. Familiar elements (house, neighbourhood, and downtown) are employed to reflect the range of environments in which people live. As patients recover, they gradually expand their range in the hospital, first spending time in the house’s small public spaces, then in the neighbourhood’s shared treatment areas, and finally in the active downtown, where the entire hospital shares unique spaces including a café, specialty clinics, exercise facilities, and a library.

This gradual emergence through the hospital from the solitude of a private room to the highly social downtown provides patients with a sense of existing within a broader community while encouraging them to look outward from a clinical inpatient setting to life beyond the hospital.

The homelike, normative environment of the house is intended to provide a space for retreat and reflection. Private bedrooms, small inpatient sub-units, and a multiplicity of spaces for interactions with staff and other patients give patients a degree of control over their environment. The 8-bed subunits capitalise on a patient’s innate abilities to manage relationships within a smaller community.

The neighbourhood, dedicated to therapeutic activities and staff offices, acts as a transitional point between the relative quiet of the house and bustle of the downtown. Long views of the downtown, to which patients in better health are allowed free access, invite participation to incentivise healing.
The downtown contains program elements shared by the entire facility, including a cafe, a library, a gym, and general health facilities. The space is organised along a spine that wraps around a large, outdoor courtyard. Human scale is provided by a series of low pavilions and alcoves within the double-height space.

Ellenzweig/architecture+, Associated Architects

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