Hope House for Birch Tree Communities

The Mission

Birch Tree Communities is dedicated to helping make a full life in the community possible for those recovering from mental illness. Its new 16-bed Hope House crisis unit in Benton had to balance necessary treatment, supervision and security needs with a healing and nurturing residential environment — all within a limited budget.

The Result

From its gabled roofs to the central courtyard, the 8,900-square-foot, one-story Hope House feels decidedly non-institutional. Elements, such as a courtyard with gardens and seating spaces sheltered with a perforated metal privacy fence, were incorporated to offer access to outdoor spaces for therapy and for resting. An open floor plan with views to the outdoors and sight lines to the nurse’s station allow members to move comfortably through the building to the shared gym and activity spaces. A back porch connected to the courtyard provides a sense of freedom and autonomy without sacrificing security.

Designated administrative spaces for focused work and staff breaks increase efficiency and provide teleconferencing functionality for meetings. The result is an environment that enhances the well-being of those who both recover and work here.

Benton, Arkansas | 2013

I was fortunate enough to watch the process from inception to completion. I saw Jennifer and Jeff meet time and again with our administrative staff to discuss plans and changes. I would see them spend day after day with contractors walking through the project making adjustments and revisions. I’ll be honest: I was not prepared to walk through the doors for the first time and see [this] amazing space. The interior was open, bright and truly made me feel as if I was at home — everything we had hoped for.

People in the community had no idea it was a psychiatric facility and, during our open house, we had to explain the nature of the project. Each room has its own bathroom, sink, bed and closet. It is built so that anyone would feel comfortable the moment they entered the building.  

We had many of our clients tour the facility once it was completed to get their feedback. It was all positive. They saw the Hope House as a place where people could find a safe haven during a difficult time in their lives. It was like Jeff and Jennifer embraced our values and spirit and designed a place around our clients.

– Luke Kramer, Birch Tree Communities