Guenther 5 Architects
Harris, New York
This newly constructed, 27,000 square-foot diagnostic and treatment facility in rural New York is part of a 350-acre campus that serves children and adults with profound neurological and developmental impairments. This is the first licensed medical facility built by the Center for Discovery, a non-profit agency and the largest employer in Sullivan County. The new center offers comprehensive outpatient primary/specialty medical and dental services to residents of the county and its surrounding area. The architects are awaiting LEED certification based on the building’s siting, its use of renewable materials (and lack of toxic materials, including vinyl), and its geothermal heating and cooling system.
The site was a brownfield, specifically an abandoned chicken farm with coops, crates, related equipment, and other site infractions. The center integrates agriculture into its programming via an on-site working farm (dairy and food) and therapeutic horse pasture. These, along with the new diagnostic and treatment clinic, are open amenities that encourage hands-on training to all people regardless of their physical limitations. A partnership program defines the treatment facility so that patients and locals interface and work together.
The building is shaped as a rectangle, split along the long axis, to form four quadrants with two levels each. Staff and back-office areas are invisible and inaccessible to visitors and the center’s patients. At each end of the building and at its major intersections natural light emanates from double-height ceilings and window walls so that the space feels open and simple. This project ensures that basic health needs in the community are met, and does so by raising awareness of the links between medical frailties and ecological health.