Downtown mental health clinic to be 3 floors, maybe 11 later
Daily Journal of Commerce
POSTED: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 02:13 PM PT
BY: Angela Webber
Central City Concern’s Broadway Recovery Center, on schedule to open in November, will contain three stories of mental health clinic space. And those floors will be significantly structurally sound.
That’s because the center was designed and built with the future in mind: More money would let officials add eight floors to the building at Broadway and West Burnside streets. The design and construction teams planned appropriately.
“Aesthetically, the building is designed to work as a stand-alone,” said Paul Jeffreys, senior designer for SERA Architects. “But the structure is designed to take a high-rise building above.”
Central City Concern decided to account for the 11-story contingency so that the downtown site could achieve maximum density goals.
“At three stories, the building isn’t fulfilling the full development potential of the site,” Jeffreys said.
“In the future, ideally (the building) could go up higher and achieve a density goal,” said Ed Blackburn, Central City Concern’s executive director. “At the time we got the project financed in 2009, the economy was such that attaining (the full height) was out of the question. It still is.”
The whole idea is unusual, though it has been done before, said Matt Godt, project manager for Walsh Construction.
“It’s not done too much – it’s a lot of dollars to put in up front to not know if you’re going to (expand) it later,” he said.
The addition could include office space or housing, Blackburn said, though no plans exist for either in the near future.
The foundation and supports are much larger than would be installed typically in a three-story building. Other systems, like exiting and an underground fire tank will accommodate the necessary codes for an 11-story building.
“These are things you can’t go in and add later,” Godt said.
To accommodate possible expansion, the project team placed the building’s mechanical equipment on the roof, so that lower floors could be kept open if construction were to take place above. This “fourth floor” won’t be finished as part of the final building, but will be kept as a mechanical area surrounded with bicycle parking and landscaping, Jeffreys said.
Another challenge came out of a decision to connect the new recovery center with Central City’s Old Town clinic in the adjacent Richard L. Harris Building.
“With the connection, both clinics can assist each other. It’s been shown that there are benefits for combining the two clinics,” Jeffreys said.
He designed the Richard L. Harris Building, which is one of the reasons SERA was brought on to design the recovery center. That didn’t make the connection easy, however.
“When I designed the Harris building, I absolutely didn’t know we would connect it” to an adjacent structure, Jeffreys said. In fact, the Harris building wall that will connect to the new center is actually a supporting seismic shear wall; that wall probably would have been designed differently if the connection had been a possibility when the Richard L. Harris Building was designed.
“We had to cut through the walls, and obviously make sure we didn’t affect the stability of the (existing) building,” Jeffreys said.
A federal grant is paying for $9 million of the $20 million cost, and the project moved quickly: Work from the beginning of design through the end of construction will end up lasting two years.
“We’re very excited about getting to the last lap of the construction phase,” Blackburn said. “This was quite the project to put together.”