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Designing Modern, Responsive Mental Health Facilities Breaking The Barriers For America’s Mental Health Crisis

Modern design principles for custodial centers have been moving away from purely punitive functions toward a more rehabilitative model. Now, both workers’ and occupants’ mental well-being are taken into consideration for facility design.

A current example of our experience in this area is the seven story 180,000 sf vacant South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center being renovated and transformed into a groundbreaking Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery. This undertaking is the first of its kind in Florida, to create a centralized continuum of care for individuals with serious mental illnesses diverting them from the Criminal Justice System to a facility where they can be properly cared for and treated. 


SBLM Architects has made a commitment to creating holistic mental health protective facilities that aim to blur the line between corrections and healing facilities. The firm’s skills in master planning, programming and designing these facilities, in support of multiple security levels, are instrumental in guiding the more evolved policy for mental health facilities for detainees.

SBLM’s delivery of mental health, built environments and best-practice approaches to designing facilities that enhance treatment outcomes and experiences, provide benefits to families and the community, and promote community resilience. 

Reducing re-offending rates begins with the occupant’s  ability to reintegrate into society once released. Architecture and design matter for patient’s well-being and social relations abilities.

Circumstances like natural light, or lighting simulating day light, can reduce stress and increase well-being. Likewise, prisoners/patients may be more affected by poor physical environments, like crowding, noise and insufficient ventilation, than other groups. This is due to a combination of their previous experiences and habits, long-term exposure to their institutional environment, and lack of control over their physical surroundings.

We incorporate experience-based criteria and address key factors prevalent to the lives of patients, such as their need for privacy, safety, control of their environment, easy orientation, the minimization of anxiety, and opportunities for social interaction. We are dedicated to continued growth and learning in the pursuit of designing facilities that help people suffering from mental illness, addiction or behavioral disorders wherever they are along their healing journey by providing better solutions that result in better outcomes for patients and our clients.


In Depth Look

Project Details & Specs.

The new facility provides 208 beds, an indoor basketball gym, a library, vocational rehabilitation, educational services and a culinary jobs training program... 

News & Media

"This project gives SBLM the unique opportunity to work on a first of it’s kind building type and create beautiful hospitality like atmosphere that promotes mental health and wellbeing for this underserved population. The SBLM Team is committed to making the best possible spaces & places within our Client’s budget that really can make a difference to the end users."

James Cohen, AIA LEED AP


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