The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH) has recognized the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Worcester Outpatient Clinic in Worcester, Massachusetts, in its prestigious 2023 Healthcare Design Awards program. The four-story medical office building, designed by SmithGroup, is located on the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School campus.
Each year, the AIA Healthcare Design Awards showcase the best of healthcare building design, planning and research. The projects honored are designed to help solve aesthetic, civic, urban and social challenges while also being functional and sustainable.
Opened in 2021, the Worcester VA Clinic, located on the building’s lower two floors, brings convenient, comprehensive healthcare to area veterans, including radiology, cardiology, mental health, rehabilitation, audiology, podiatry, and pharmacy and laboratory services. The upper two floors of the building are designed to house UMass outpatient and administrative programs.
Clinical spaces are organized around the VA’s Patient-Aligned Care Teams (PACT) model, a patient-centered model of care in which a dedicated team of health professionals works collaboratively to provide for all of the patient’s healthcare needs. Exam rooms have two entrances, one for patients and one for clinical staff, connected to off-stage PACT teaming areas. This next-generation design enables multidisciplinary care teams to provide care in one location, reducing the need for patients to move between clinics, while the off-stage workspaces allow the care teams to work and collaborate without disruption to patients.
The building's design is intended to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. Recognizing that many returning veterans who have experienced combat conditions do not encounter a building the same way as the civilian population, the design is a welcoming, calm, and clearly defined environment with visible egress pathways and exit stairs located on the building perimeter.
Dedicated gathering spaces in and around the building, including an outdoor patio, provide places for veterans to connect, reinforcing a sense of camaraderie. The project is designed to meet a Two Green Globes rating, required by Veterans Affairs lease agreement, as well as Massachusetts LEED Plus green building standard, and is LEED Silver certified.
The planning, design and sustainability of the Worcester VA Clinic has previously been honored by the Boston Society of Architects with an award of merit for Healthcare Design in 2022.
SmithGroup’s Boston office provided integrated design services, including architecture, interior design, MEP engineering, and lighting design. Suffolk Construction served as the general contractor in the design-build relationship. Other key design team members include VHB, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. as civil engineer, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger as structural engineer, Code Red Consultants as fire protection and life safety engineer, Vantage Technology Consulting Group as data designer, and Acentech as acoustical designer.