The effort to promote and support population health and wellness has few rivals in its influence on healthcare today, inspiring the planning, design, and construction community to create environments that help providers deliver on that mission. The solutions being brought to the table vary widely, though, each in its own way answering the call. Healthcare Design asked industry members how wellness is being defined in their work—and they showed us. In this special report, “All Is Well” (to be published in the May 2016 issue of the magazine and in installments online in April and May), find a sampling of the myriad innovative and inspiring approaches being taken.

The vision for Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in Rochester, Minn., is a destination for personal well-being, reflection, and exploration. Expanding upon the success of an existing wellness center designed in 2006 for employees, the four-story addition, opened in 2014 and designed by BWBR, extends its reach to the community at large. The center provides guests with a personal and individualized journey that links long-term well-being to healthy behaviors.

The program begins with a health assessment and adds physical activity, nutrition, and resiliency (spiritual awareness, plus stress reduction and management) to help users map an attainable and sustainable path to better health. The design of the assessment rooms speaks to this approach, with flexible, customizable components that fold away to put the visitor at the center of attention and invite conversations with the care team, as well as accommodating physical testing and standard exams. 

Fitness spaces are partitioned into small group areas to promote intimate training sessions and avoid an intimidating “on display” fitness atmosphere. The kitchen is designed to go beyond demonstration, promoting participation and encouraging healthy food exploration. A walking treadmill classroom helps guests learn how to incorporate movement into everyday living, and spaces designed to rejuvenate the mind (from meditation rooms to massage therapy spaces) remind participants of the link between mental health and physical health.

“The time spent in planning this space from both functional and aesthetic points of view was well worth it,” says Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. “One of our challenges is to accurately describe the program to potential guests, because it’s such a novel program in a unique environment. However, once they arrive on-site, their reaction and experience are always positive.”