Seattle Unveils Robust New VA Center

By Eric Althoff

SEATTLEAfter a decade of planning, the VA Puget Sound has opened the $121.6 million Mental Health and Research Building, which is intended to service the physical and mental health needs of over 110,000 veterans in the Pacific Northwest who had heretofore been treated at nine various facilities around Seattle.   

Medication, psychosocial case management and Dialectical Behavior Therapy will all be part of the healthcare offered at the new facility.  It will focus heavily on mental health care for the area’s veterans, which will include group psychotherapy to address an entire range of mental health disorders.  The new facilities will also be able to better address the needs of patients dealing with PTSD and Alzheimer’s disease, while also working with veterans on suicide prevention.  Facilities for oncology are also included. 

The Mental Health and Research Building will also have ways to assist veterans who need to get fitted for prosthetic limbs.  The facility’s state-of-the-art equipment will assist veterans in being properly fitted in its prosthetics labs, with motion analysis and custom fabrication capabilities helping the process.  Furthermore, the prosthetics lab will be centralized rather than spread out across many different buildings. 

According to the Seattle Times, the Mental Health and Research Building will be part of a Veterans Affairs hospital site that was opened in 1951 and has been expanded over the decades, with the most recent addition in 1985. 

One goal with the new facility will be consolidating all of the research capabilities of the area into one centralized location.  This will allow for greater communication and collaboration across various departments. 

The VA prides itself on designing its new facilities to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and so the Mental Health and Research Building has been crafted to LEED standards.  To accomplish this, the design features solar shading, operable windows, green roofs, passive systems, rainwater harvesting as well as interior gardens with natural ventilation. 

The design aesthetic features vaulted ceilings and offers encompassing views of the Olympic Mountains across the city from Puget Sound, the Seattle Times reported.  The paper also noted that the project opened on schedule and with a budget overrun of only 10 percent, though at one point there were questions about where some of the completion funds would come from. 

Swinerton provided general contracting services for the adjacent Stantec-designed parking structure.  Clark Construction worked on the other buildings as general contractor. 

Seattle represents the fifth-largest coverage area for the VA in the entire country.  The downtown Seattle facilities are the only ones in the region that offer methadone treatment as well as electroconvulsive therapy, according to the Seattle Times. 

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