Fulton County, Ga., administrators believe policy drives the conditions in which people live and work. When socio-economic conditions are poor and there are few public services, administrators believe the physical and mental health of community residents suffer. As such, in 2008, Fulton County’s Health and Human Services departments were charged with identifying opportunities to improve community health through programs and policies.As part of the resulting Common Ground initiative, county administrators now are providing services to underserved areas. Adamsville, a predominantly African-American neighborhood located on the southwest side of Atlanta, was identified as a community in need. Fulton County’s solution was construction of a hybrid building that not only provides primary-care, dental and behavioral health clinics, but also offers child-care facilities, housing resources and access to the library system, as well as a workforce development center. The space also has approximately 500 square feet available for future use. The county hoped the new building would not only provide assistance to residents but also entice additional businesses and housing development in the area.
Although the project was smaller—34,000 square feet—than most completed by the Atlanta offices of architectural firm Stanley Beaman & Sears and general contractor Whiting-Turner Contracting, the design-build team was attracted to the concept. “We thought it was a good story,” says David Deis, project manager with Stanley Beaman & Sears, a firm that specializes in healthcare design. “It’s kind of a community center that taps into all that Fulton County has to offer, and we were both intrigued by that.”
As the team got started, it quickly realized putting all the disparate parts and pieces together into one facility during the 275-day timeframe Fulton County required was going to be challenging. Teamwork and a roof that identifies this “beacon for the community” brought it all together on schedule and within budget.
ROOF AS METAPHOR
As the design-build team began laying out the building’s program requirements, team members realized something had to organize the many services the new Adamsville Regional Health Center would provide. Deis says the team devised an interior “street” visitors can walk down to access the individual departments. “Visitors can see where the dental clinic is, where the primary care and behavioral health are,” he says. “It’s almost like you’re walking down the mall or a street and you’re seeing all these services.”
The team immediately knew the roof would be important. Not only would it be like a “quilt” bringing all the departments and services together in one space, but it also would be a predominant feature on the site.
Built along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, a state highway that leads into downtown Atlanta, the building would be seen by a lot of traffic. The site itself is street level next to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive but dramatically drops farther from the street. The design-build team opted to create a 2-story building in which the second story is level with the roadway. Parking and access to the first level were built in the back where the site plummets. The location of the building and the site’s topography dictated a roof that would capture the attention of passersby.
“Once we set the building and looked at it formally, we didn’t want people driving down the street and looking down onto a typical gable-type roof,” Deis says. “We knew the roof would be very dominant and we wanted to keep it clean and allow it to claim the corner at the intersection.”