The Harris House Treatment and Recovery Center is located on the bluff of the Missouri River in St. Charles, Mo.

Architecture firm Arcturis (St. Louis) was asked to envision this previously developed site as a serene retreat for patients seeking addiction treatment. Understanding the therapeutic role of the natural environment, Arcturis carefully positioned the facility to maximize natural light and prioritize views to the surrounding landscape.

The building is clad in a high-density, sustainably sourced garapa wood rainscreen, glass, and stone to make the facility feel welcoming and nonthreatening and is sited in a clearing atop the bluff overlooking a nearby trail.

From the entry gate, a meandering drive passes through a mass of mature trees and around a small pond before arriving at the building’s porte cochere. The pond serves as on-site stormwater retention, with native water-loving plant material planted on its banks to offer beauty.

Additionally, walking paths around the pond provide space for private reflection.

The facility’s two linear patient wings form a central courtyard with more than 15 species of vegetation, providing an inviting, secure outdoor space for therapy and relaxation.

The Arcturis design team collaborated closely with leadership at Harris House on the central courtyard design to ensure the space offered flexibility while meeting patient and caregiver needs.

Another challenge Arcturis solved via landscape solutions was to design a unified resident courtyard that maintained visual sight lines while also providing separation between genders when occupied simultaneously, a program requirement.

The solution is an open lawn flanked on either side by a shrub hedgerow and pathways that divide the space into two zones.

Pathways lead to terraces at the end of each building, where residents can relax and commune with the natural setting. Recessed, covered porches are carved from the building wings and offer shelter from the sun and rain.


Anne DiNardo is executive editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at