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MOA principals speak at AIA’23 on day treatment center design

MOA Principals Katie Vander Putten and Kasia Bulkowski led a special session at this year’s AIA Conference on Architecture in San Francisco.

Alongside Dr. Tony J. Poole, Assistant Superintendent of Special Populations for the Cherry School School District, Katie and Kasia presented “Bridging the Gap: Designing Learning Environments for Kids in Crisis.” The session focused on MOA’s Traverse Academy project, a day treatment center under construction for Cherry Creek School District.

The hour-long session explored the broad topic of mental health support for children and adolescents in the US, as well as design and planning strategies for this emerging project type. This included how to “de-institutionalize” spaces and thoughtfully integrate anti-ligature fixtures and finishes.

The session description read as follows:

Mental health day treatment centers for children occupy a space between inpatient psychiatric care and the public school system, allowing kids to continue their education in a supportive environment. In 2023, the nation’s first school district–owned and –operated day treatment center will open. Part school and part mental health crisis center, the project required an unusual blend of healthcare and educational architecture. The team will discuss how they engaged stakeholder groups to determine the goals for the project; how they developed a program from these efforts; and how the design effectively blends healthcare requirements with a 21st-century learning environment.