Fora Health Wins AIA National Healthcare Award

Fora Health Wins AIA National Healthcare Award

The AIA National Healthcare Design Awards showcase the best of healthcare building design, planning, and design-oriented research. The awards highlight the trends of healthcare facilities and the future direction of these facilities. Winning projects exhibit conceptual strength that solve aesthetic, civic, urban, and social concerns as well as the requisite functional and sustainability concerns associated with a health care setting.

Fora Health was one of only ten recipients of the award, chosen from across the United States.

Fora Health, previously known as De Paul, is one of Oregon's oldest and largest providers of residential and outpatient chemical dependency treatment for adults. In 2018 De Paul decided to sell its outdated headquarters in downtown Portland, which had no ADA access, natural ventilation, or private outdoor space, and create a new facility.

"A place for healing."

This phrase was the singular vision that transformed over three acres in East Portland from a vacant urban property into Fora Health's unmatched treatment campus. It drove the design of a space that would better meet the needs of Fora's patients and bring the organization's administrative offices and residential, outpatient, and withdrawal management programs together under one roof. Through contemporary, trauma-informed design, the facility now offers a welcoming, spa-like environment that removes the stigma of addiction treatment. As part of Fora's commitment to "care for the whole person," the facility provides a full continuum of care: patients receive the best medical treatment and activities that help them express themselves, develop healthy habits, and build resilience. With ample outdoor space, a serene interior palette, maximum openness and clear wayfinding, the campus supports the organization's mission to create freedom from addiction for individuals, families, and communities.

With Fora’s new facility, patients and staff have more space, amenities, and access to nature, all in a building that is calming, inspiring, and empowering for patients and staff alike. The spaces inspire a greater sense of self-worth for the patients, which is often lacking, and minimize conflict, providing a greater likelihood of recovery. Patient safety is paramount, and Fora’s design balances the privacy of patients with the staff’s ability to maintain lines of sight for monitoring. Patient physical and psychological safety is also considered by using large open spaces and minimizing dead ends or blind corners, which can feel unsafe for patients experiencing trauma. Coherency in trauma-informed design means creating logical spaces that help patients develop a sense of trust in the environment. For instance, the repetition of finishes provides a sense of predictability, while all circulation is clearly marked and leads back to the central lobby.

As part of its commitment to "caring for the whole person," Fora Health practices a continuum of care, offering patients and residents various impactful activities that help them express themselves, develop healthy habits, and build resilience. Inside the facility, an art studio, fitness center, library, and commercial kitchen provide recreational activities and nutrition to help patients build healthy habits and practice self-expression. With these flexible and nurturing spaces, Fora can host yoga workshops, cooking classes, art projects, and countless other activities that encourage holistic wellness and recovery. To make these spaces possible, designers carefully adapted the tenets of trauma-informed care practices and integrated them into a trauma-informed design that follows six basic strategies: safety, nature, comfort, coherency, de-escalation, and empowerment. Altogether, this design creates a space of healing and recovery that manifests Fora's commitment to its patients through physical form and function.

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