The facility is designed to provide a home-like, relaxed environment for patients with the purpose of helping speed their recovery. An important feature of the new addition is its abundant natural daylight, which has been made possible through the use of SageGlass® electronically tintable dynamic glass.
The VA wanted the 5,000-square-foot expansion to feel more like a small, comfortable hotel than a traditional hospital, said John McBride, architect with JBHM Architects, the designers of the facility. “The space was designed to be a refuge where veterans can come and go as they please as they work through their treatment programs,” he said.
The focal point of the clinic is the Dayroom, a large, open lounge area that provides a space for group therapy, activities and relaxation, McBride said. Key to its design is the generous use of daylight which numerous studies have shown helps shorten patients’ recovery times and contributes to their overall well-being. Daylight enters the Dayroom through two 36-foot by 5-foot glass walls, one each on the western and eastern facades. Both facades are glazed with SageGlass.
In the original design, the walls were to contain static glass, but designers knew the large expanses would present significant glare and solar heat issues. Compounding matters, the upper panes are 18 feet above the floor, making them difficult to access for cleaning.
McBride considered using motorized shades to block the sun during the problematic times of the day, but the cost, complexity and the loss of the view and natural lighting caused him to seek a better alternative. “Our cost analysis took into consideration that motorized shades were not only costly to operate, but we would have to hire specialists to clean them since they were inaccessible. On top of that, the VA has rules against the use of shades in clinical environments due to the dust problem they can create. SageGlass eliminated those problems with an automated solution that controlled the solar rays without eliminating the daylighting and the connection to the outdoors,” he said. SageGlass was cost competitive and presented an elegant solution for the VA.
SageGlass is electronically tintable glass that can be tinted or cleared to maximize daylighting, support sustainability, and enhance the occupant experience in buildings. SageGlass manages the sunlight and heat that enter a building through the facade, improving people’s comfort and reducing a building’s cooling load by up to 20%.
The new facility will assist numerous service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from PTSD symptoms. The Memphis VA Medical Center has developed a special team called the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn Team to support the veterans in the clinic who served in these campaigns.