The new 55,000-square-foot Yale Child Study Center, located in New Haven, Connecticut, has recently been completed. Svigals + Partners served as the project architect, with Standard Builders serving as general contractor.
Featuring original, architecturally integrated artwork, the project brings all of YCSC’s operations and staff together under one roof for the first time, in a setting that supports outpatient treatment and research related to children’s behavioral health. Intensive-outpatient services are located on the first floor, patient care and family support services are located on the second floor, with administrative and research offices on the third.
The project team faced multiple challenges in delivering a healthcare facility capable of supporting YCSC’s mission and range of services, particularly given the building was originally designed to support use by a telephone company. Miles of cables had to be removed, and the structure limited the options for where to raise ceiling heights. The building’s walls also severely limited the number and locations of windows that could be added to the façade.
Because the new home for YCSC needed to be a suitable environment for staff, caregivers and children of varying ages and behavioral needs, the design team incorporated themes, patterns, integrated artwork and wayfinding elements inspired by nature.
Applying a core philosophy that informs the design firm’s work in healthcare, this biophilic approach – similar to those shown in studies to produce positive behavioral changes – is designed to instill a sense of calm and comfort. For example, the stair leading up from the double-height lobby to the main waiting area features a colorful overhead sculptural installation depicting a shimmering school of fish. For children and families, the sculpture introduces the nature theme that continues throughout, while also encouraging use of the stairs instead of the elevator.
The waiting room features a palette of colors and finishes that subtly evoke the natural world, including a ceiling installation of white curvilinear acoustic panels hung below a blue ceiling to suggest the sky – and a single-overt gesture: a full-height tree “sculpture” composed of brown and green wood veneer and laminate that hides a structural column. Combined with natural wood-finished reading nooks and donated books, the waiting room was designed to relax, reduce stress and welcome all into the healing environment.
The nature themes continue into the hallways, with wayfinding elements such as names for exam and treatment rooms like “Forest A-227,” and ornamental light-boxes in the hallways that reinforce the themes. Smaller family waiting rooms in treatment wings also feature thematic finishes, built-in banquettes, whimsical pouf seating and patio furniture to emphasize the connection to the outdoors.