This 34,000-square-foot regional health facility located in an under-served neighborhood in southwest Atlanta combines under one roof a primary care clinic, a behavioral health clinic, childcare facilities, a dental clinic and a workforce community center. In doing so, it projects a holistic idea of wellness and a positive self-image for a challenged community. The building is also meant as a catalyst for future growth in the area.
The intention was to create a structure that feels vibrant and alive. The roof was conceived as a dynamic, protective element, a metaphoric blanket, opening upward to welcome in the public. A standing-seam “clamp” folds over the roof to house mechanical equipment, identify major entries and serve as a beacon. Inside, a decentralized, double-height circulation lobby further integrates all the programmatic components.
The notion of co-locating all these functions in a single facility to serve people of varied backgrounds led to consideration of the communal folk art of quilting, in particular its social and aesthetic traditions in the African-American community. Also an inspiration were the collaged paintings of Atlanta artist Radcliff Bailey, who pieces together found objects, archival photographs and historic imagery with jazz-like effects. These inspirations led to understanding how the building’s exterior materials could reflect the arrhythmic yet unified patterns of both quilting and improvisational music. Hence the randomized patterning devices used in metal wall panels and punched window location.
A design-build, fast-track project, the health center building was completed, from start to finish, in 275 days. This required mediating between multiple stakeholders, including the city, county and community members; for example, convincing all that the support and staff spaces could be successfully shared between the various services, maximizing the building’s efficiency. It was a singular achievement to design, detail and build such a sophisticated and elegant structure under particularly harsh economic and schedule constraints.