Veterans Affairs (VA; Birmingham, Ala.) wanted to relocate and centralize mental health services from its downtown Birmingham, hospital into a new facility, while also freeing up space in its existing hospital for other services.

The new 71,000-square-foot Birmingham East VA Clinic, opened in January, consolidates outpatient mental health services, including specialty clinics for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, and psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery, as well as group psychotherapy and psychiatry, day programs, suicide prevention, in-home intensive case management, couples and family therapy, telehealth programs, peer support, and homeless programs.

Architecture firm Hoefer Welker (Leawood, Kan.) used evidence-based design principles such as biophilic design, expansive windows to allow a connection to nature, and abundant daylight and calming colors. The facility’s clinic modules are arranged in distinct zones to reduce travel distances for patients and staff, while creating separation between patient care and administrative/support spaces. Overall site planning, functional arrangement, and interior and exterior architectural concepts were developed with the patient experience in mind.

The clinic’s interior design was inspired by nature—specifically the connection to Ruffner Mountain, Flora Johnston Nature Park, and the valley between them. The orientation of the building allows the main public concourse to be filled with light, creating a comfortable setting. A continuous glass wall enhances wayfinding by maintaining a streamlined path to specific departments. The building’s high-performance glass and glazing systems provide transparency and connectivity while reducing energy consumption. This glazing makes it easy for visitors to orient themselves by looking outside, while strategic interior material selection such as colored terrazzo provides visual wayfinding cues.


Project details:

Facility name: Birmingham East VA Clinic

Location: Birmingham, Ala.

Completion date: January 2022

Owner: US Federal Properties Co. LLC

Total building area: 71,000 sq. ft.

Total construction cost: Confidential

Cost/sq. ft.: Confidential

Architecture firm: Hoefer Welker

Interior design: Hoefer Welker

General contractor: Hoar Construction

Engineering: Sain Associates (civil engineer), Bob D. Campbell & Co. (structural engineer), Smith & Boucher Inc. (mechanical engineer), LAND3 Studio LLC (landscape architect), FSC Inc. (life safety), Protection Engineering (blast engineer)