1st Phase Underway for Design-Build Renovation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Behavioral Health Center

As one of the first facilities of its kind, the projected 500,000-square-foot Martin Luther King Jr. Behavioral Health Center, under construction and located in Willowbrook, California, will integrate inpatient, outpatient and supportive services for some of the area’s most vulnerable and underserved populations—including those living with mental illness, substance use disorders and homelessness. It will be the first facility in Los Angeles County to bring together so many different and related services and will replace the former Martin Luther King, Jr./Drew Medical Center on the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus.

Bernards is leading the construction and HOK is leading the design, in partnership with Los Angeles County Public Works.

The original Martin Luther King, Jr./Drew Medical Center opened to provide the Watts-Willowbrook community with improved healthcare in the wake of the 1965 Watts Uprising. The building closed in 2007 while the surrounding medical campus has grown over the last decade to include the MLK Community Hospital, Outpatient Center, Recuperative Care Center and several other healthcare facilities. The new MLK Behavioral Health Center will house clinical and behavioral staff to provide mental and public health services, as well as workforce, diversion and reentry services.

The center’s design creates a warm and nurturing one-stop-shop that emphasizes a sense of belonging, self-respect and healing. The project upgrades various building systems, provides exterior facade and site improvements, refreshes the building and entrance canopy and repurposes the building’s rooftop and courtyards for recreational use. Beyond improving the lives of individual patients, the design and programming also address community health, providing a peer resource center and conference rooms for public use.

By preserving the original five-story building, the renovation reduces demolition and construction costs, as well as the amount of embodied carbon associated with new construction. The design is targeting LEED Silver certification with improvements to the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning and mechanical, engineering and plumbing systems that will increase energy and water-use efficiency. Solar power generated onsite will decrease the center’s reliance on the local energy grid.

Construction site mobilization began in January 2020. Phase I of the project is scheduled to be completed in October 2020, with completion of Phase II scheduled for June 2021.



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Posted March 18, 2020

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