Montgomery Sisam Architects receives High Commendation for International Mental Health Design

Distributed at the International Academy for Design and Health’s 7th World Congress and Exhibition recently held in Boston, the awards recognized Toronto-based Montgomery Sisam Architects for their achievement in designing environments for those with mental health and addictions issues – specifically the Sister Margaret Smith Addiction Treatment Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Design & Health International Academy Awards is the leading global advocacy program recognizing professional excellence in the research and practice of designing healthy built environments.

“We are very honoured to receive this recognition from the Academy. It is particularly gratifying to have the Smith Centre, which cares for so many people in Northern Ontario, be given global recognition,” said Principal Robert Davies.

The Centre, commissioned by St. Joseph’s Care Group, provides residential and non-residential services for the treatment of addictions including drug and alcohol, gambling and eating disorders, among others.

Highlights of the design solution include ample access to daylight and a direct connection to the outdoors. Two courtyards, one for residential clients and one for non-residential clients, provide a safe and secure environment and are an integral part of therapy.

The Centre has been designed to support the core values of St Joseph’s Care Group which are: compassionate and holistic care, dignity and respect, faith-based care, inclusiveness and truthfulness, and trust. This is most evident in the main hall of the building known as the Hall of Recovery which organizes the three main components of the program in a dignified, welcoming and comforting setting. Three large round skylights represent the Windows of Hope: one for the mind (therapy rooms), the body (gymnasium) and the soul (spiritual space).

Davies added, “We are particularly pleased with how the building environment aids in the healing process by being welcoming, providing clear wayfinding, giving access to daylight and views, and providing a calm environment for clients, staff and visitors.”

While Montgomery Sisam Architects are the associated design architects, the architect of record is FORM Architecture of Thunder Bay. The project is targeting LEED Gold certification.