2019 Design Award

Nixon Forensics Center (Fulton State Hospital)   Fulton, Missouri
Honor Award


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Architect:  WSP USA
General Contractor:  River City Construction
Photographer:  Michael Robinson Photography, LLC

The primary challenge of the new Fulton State Hospital was resolving the seemingly contradictory goals of creating a safe, recovery-based environment for patients and staff while providing security levels for all users commensurate with the admission of forensic psychiatric patients who may do "harm to others or themselves."

The design solution is driven by healing, recovery, and safety on the cutting edge of psychiatric care.  The design team empowered patients and staff through rigorous planning, maximizing light to circulation and treatment areas and providing access to outdoor space and views to nature.  To reduce the length of circulation and establish site fit, 12 residential units were paired into six star-like clusters to allow glazing and views from every room.  The curvilinear circulation lines minimize walking distances to reduce staff stress and provide faster collegial connectivity in times of need.  The intersection of a central spine and a cross corridor creates four light-giving courtyards — one for each program community.  Every community was carefully designed for safety — minimizing visual impact while providing both real and perceived security to staff and patients — and therapeutic, adhering to the most progressive standards of care for the mentally ill.


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Transparency and integrated landscaping are used to welcome the local community via a park-like perimeter setting and through maximized glazing in the lobby and administration building.  Terra cotta and glass modulate the facade and the lobby features a deep, protective, canopy supported by columns in both ordered and disordered configurations to express the sensibility of the complex work within.  The overall design character strives to project a feeling of wellness — a return to normalcy that also represents a patient's recovery and future reunion with society.