SmithGroup designs first-of-its-kind center for traumatic brain injury
The National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, is a 72,000 sq ft outpatient facility designed to treat service members with moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological health issues. The new building is the first of its kind and brings together an unprecedented combination of services to provide military patients and veterans the best opportunity to regain their pre-injury abilities in a supportive, healing environment.
The design facilitates a new method of delivering care for patients. Using conventional and holistic medicine, comprehensive patient care brings the best of both practices into one treatment plan. Rather than bringing the patient to the services, NICoE is designed to bring the services to the patient. By integrating family activity zones, natural light and a balance of large and small areas, the design solution offers healing spaces not just for physical needs, but also for the emotional and spiritual needs of patients, families, and caregivers.
TBI research is advancing quickly, and new findings mean the need for new spatial plans; therefore, the spaces are designed to remain flexible to allow for future changes. The building’s layout is anchored by an L-shaped bar, which accommodates multiple diagnostic, treatment and support spaces. A serpentine, glass curtainwall, mirrored by a wood-clad wall that runs along the main lobby, encloses educational, therapy and public areas. The free-form spaces created within the undulating walls evoke feelings of hope and confidence without the traditional bureaucracy.
A variety of ceiling heights, cut-outs, and overlooks provide a rich spatial experience and the opportunity for natural light and exterior views. For TBI patients, light is extremely important in creating a healing environment. The design provides even levels of natural and indirect light. Every therapy space has natural light, complimented by strategic window placement to improve wayfinding and balance visual control with auditory control. The facility is certified LEED Silver.