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Keck Medicine of USC – Student Mental Health Clinic

Keck Medicine of USC – Student Mental Health Clinic

When we reviewed the project program from USC and interviewed their user group, it was communicated to us that they desired a space that was inviting, relaxing, and would calm those visiting and to those occupying the space.

As we explored the clients’ needs further, we came to the conclusion that the design needs to be Biophilic.  To this point, we wanted to bring nature into the space in the following manner:

Natural Light

Where possible, we wanted to have natural light flood the interior spaces as much as possible. In order to maximize the space, we placed as many patient areas along the exterior walls where existing windows were located.  In order to bring natural light into the corridor areas, we aligned corridors (as much as possible) with the existing windows.

Use of Wood

We found that wood manel walls would provide a natural finish that would warm-up the spaces. We therefore placed wood paneled walls at all waiting and sub-waiting areas which relaxing furnishings that provide a peaceful environment.

Relaxing Fire Place

In the waiting area, we created a fire place element as the main focal point.  For safety purposes, the fire place is completely electronic and the flame is simulated – therefore generates minimal heat which is designed into a natural stone hearth with wood paneling in the background.  This provides a tranquil environment for patients to relax prior to scheduled clinical visit.

Curved Elements and Lighting Design

We find that curved wall corners and ceiling elements provide a softer aesthetical design so we developed curved wall elements at main nodes throughout the space. We created curvilinear light soffits throughout the circulation and main entry points to provide a soft and subtle wayfinding element for patients as they navigate through the clinical spaces.  The lighting in the main corridors consists of only indirect soffit cover lighting which enhances the curved soffit design and frames the main curved focal nodes while providing a softer and calm lighting source.


Key Project Features

  • Facility provides easily accessible mental health care services for all USC students and is located within the campus's Engemann Student Health Center.
  • A three pod design system for Counseling Rooms, Vitals Areas, and provider stations are implemented to increase efficiency of care and to promote team-based clinical collaboration.
  • A living wall of moss plants, LED fireplace, indirect cove lighting, and soft ceiling and flooring forms provide a soft, organic, and comfortable environment.