Plans are currently underway to turn an empty building at 205 Portland Street into the new home for the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The 26,000 square foot building has been purchased by the University and will become the permanent home for the Center in the Fall of 2010.
Though in the preliminary stages, building renovation is progressing according to schedule. Members of the Thompson Center’s faculty and staff have engaged in a series of meetings with SFS Architecture lead architects Mike Christianer and Doug Barraza, to solidify a floor plan for the new facility.
“Our goal is to design a facility to give hope to the children and families who struggle with neurodevelopmental disorders that it may assist them in life and find solutions for unanswered questions” said Mike Christianer.
As the Center moves into a new facility it has the chance to re-evaluate its procedures and methods and create an environment that supports the Center’s mission. The 205 Portland building provides a blank canvas of which to create this new environment.
The functions and activities of the center will be arranged to provide efficiency for the staff, and comfort and privacy for the families and children. Patient services will be placed on one level and faculty and staff offices will occupy another. Visual detail will be kept to a minimum while providing a warm environment of materials and finishes. Natural light and views to the outside will be introduced into many of the centers functions and will reduce the requirement for artificial day lighting. Indirect lighting will also be utilized to reduce glare from lighting sources while providing a unique environment for many areas of the facility.
The Center’s design encourages collaboration between its faculty and staff by providing areas that allow for conversation and the exchange of ideas. The new location will also provide greater access for larger group meetings. Family friendly areas will allow parents and children to learn more about disorders, relax together and enjoy privacy. Areas specific to diagnosis, treatment and testing will be provided along with areas of multi functional use to increase the efficiency of the building while providing opportunities for potential increases in services.
As the design progresses, one question has guided the process, “will it help the children?” Those involved in designing the space hope it will and are striving to provide a facility to empower those affected by neurodevelopmental disorders.