VA Tampa Mental Health Clinic
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Clinic in metro Tampa is a best-in-class facility designed to better serve the region’s service men and women. Once complete, the clinic will be a first-of-its-kind by integrating all the mental health services the VA offers into a single, full-service resource. It will also include a 60-bed inpatient residential treatment program (domiciliary) and 800 parking spaces.
With enhanced outpatient and inpatient mental health services under one roof, the design is focused on creating a warm, welcoming and therapeutic environment that supports healing and socialization, and emphasizes strong ties to community. The new facility replaces three undersized clinics—a psychology rehab and recovery center, a domiciliary and a mental health clinic. Therefore, pragmatic goals of functionality, adaptability, modernization and energy efficiency were also key.
Optimizing the patient’s pathway. The patient’s pathway allows for privacy. Some Veterans are there for mental health support, some for assistance with substance abuse, and some for both. Direct input from both clinicians and Veterans allowed designers to reimagine their journey and ensure that the physical environment guides and supports them.
Providing for camaraderie. The design team observed that veterans often enjoy being with one another—people who share a common experience of being in the military—and sharing stories and insights. Their definition of success for this facility involved spaces that allow for gathering and sharing. The design team also recognized that central or inner seating within expansive atria was rarely occupied as many veterans prefer not to have their backs to their path of travel. Our design instead features smaller atria and additional smaller gathering spaces. This also reintroduces choice and sense of personal space.
Creating a sense of place and peace. The calming effect of nature and natural elements has been proven by numerous research studies and understandably forms much of the basis of trauma-informed design. The degree to which a space can be made to feel less clinical can increase the effectiveness of mental health therapy. The design features direct engagement with nature through gardens and walking paths, indirect access to nature through ample use of windows and clerestories to provide natural light and clear sightlines and easy wayfinding to reduce stress.
Prioritizing sustainability. Sustainable design is prioritized in all building areas. This is documented through the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes New Construction (GGNC) program in which the project is required to achieve a minimum of 2 globes (55-69% of all applicable credits). The project will accomplish a 2-globe score through overall energy efficiency, low wattage LED lighting throughout, automatic lighting controls including dimming daylighting, high performance building envelope, water use reduction, reduced emissions, increased use of recycled materials, improved building system controls and ecological landscaping.
Programming for safety and welcome. Environment of trust and safety are key elements of mental health trauma rehabilitation. Therefore, public safety stakeholders requested a more centralized space, rather than in the front of the building. This allows the Veterans and visitors to be greeted in a welcoming and less controlled environment yet enabling security to be attentive to inpatient and outpatient areas.
This 144,000 square foot project will begin construction late 2021 and is scheduled to open in the second half of 2023. The Department of Veterans Affairs with the General Services Administration (GSA) awarded the lease to Cullinan Properties for the clinic.
“The state-of-the-art facility will care for our nation’s service men and women, providing outpatient mental health care. Our design creates a warm, welcoming and therapeutic environment that supports healing and patient by incorporating natural light, promoting socialization and connecting to community.”
– Stephanie Webster, Senior Vice President of Development, Cullinan Properties
At a glance
Outpatient and inpatient mental health services
Optimizes the patient’s pathway
Provides for camaraderie
Programming for safety and welcome
Community-based outpatient clinic
60-bed inpatient residential treatment (domiciliary)
800 parking spaces
Design-build project delivery
Fire protection and life safety