Client: Providence Health Care Location: Vancouver, BC Size: 8,600 sf Budget: $1,800,000 Status: Completed in 2006
St. Paul's Hospital Mental Health Unit

With this notable project, JDa is proud to have pioneered a new standard of architectural design in healthcare. In the mid-2000s, most inpatient mental health units were unadorned, sterile, hospital spaces. Through integrated design management, JDa collaborated with multiple client groups to breathe new life into an aging, formerly unused space and turn it into a vibrant, transitional “neighbourhood” for mental health patients. From common areas to patient rooms, each area of the unit was planned to work like an element of a community to help patients return to everyday living and decision making.

JDa worked with physicians, nurses, occupational health and safety workers, security staff, maintenance, facilities managers and users to develop an architectural response to the unique needs of short-term mental health inpatients.
Designing a new standard of mental health care

One tends to lose sense of time and place when in the hospital for any length of time—this effect is enhanced when mental illness is involved. So one of the critical aspects of mental healthcare is easing patients’ transition from a hospital environment back into the community. The JDa team believed that the hospital space itself could work towards this end and used every opportunity to incorporate wayfinding and social skill development into the design.

Patient “bedrooms” are decorated in soft colours and are positioned around the perimeter of common areas. Colour-coding, such as using painted linoleum to mimic area rugs and doormats, helps patients with wayfinding and adds a homey touch.

The kitchen eating area incorporate textures and colours, moving from a colder institutional feel to a more casual, considered space that promotes connectedness.


This project was one of the first mental healthcare renovations in Canada and was awarded the first healthcare LEED-CI Certification in North America.

JDa Team

Kimberly Johnston—Project Architect

John Botelho—Job Captain

Vancouver Firehall No. 5 + Housing Receives LEED Gold Certification
Read more
Check out our new website!
Read more
Maple Ridge Fire Hall reaches construction milestone
Read more
JDa Principal presents talk on colocation at Fire Station Design Symposium
Read more