Designing for Wellness

Knowing that our clients operate in performance driven environments demanding greater quality patient care, superior patient satisfaction scores, and a safe space for patients and staff, we believe that healthcare architecture must support a comprehensive wellness experience in an engaging and nurturing context. Wellness speaks to both the physical and psychological characteristics of a space, and to the operational, financial and ever shifting goals of healthcare stakeholders. With a focus on designing for wellness, our team of healthcare experts utilizes the latest process and research tools including LEAN based design exercises, evidence based design research, and the integration of biophilic design elements. Regardless of project size, Marshall Craft Associates collaborates with you to deliver innovative results that meet your strategic initiatives and provide flexibility in this continually evolving marketplace.


We provide a deep level of experience across all types and acuity levels of healthcare projects – inpatient, ambulatory, medical office, and behavioral health care. Whether your project is a small renovation or an entire masterplan, our specialized in house teams collaborate with you to address the many challenges that face today’s healthcare projects. We look forward to partnering our experience with your requirements to deliver the best solution for your project needs.

The built environment plays an important role in our mental health and, similarly, the architectural design of care environments has the ability to either impair or promote psychological well-being. At MCA, effectively planning an environment of care involves bringing together an interdisciplinary, experienced team of stakeholders, including clinicians, facilities, designers, and contractors. This integrated team works collaboratively to envision, plan, and design an environment to support new models of care for the particular population. Our design process includes planning and programming, a safety/risk assessment, design charrettes, mock-ups with actual finishes and furniture, simulation/role playing, and post occupancy evaluations.

OUR PHILOSOPHY. MCA has been an integral partner in the evolution of behavioral health design in the Mid-Atlantic since 1992. Together with our clients, our team of planners and designers have developed a philosophy that is responsive to the changing dynamics and methodologies pertaining to the treatment of behavioral health patients. Responsive to leading research in patient outcomes, we believe the architecture of a building can have a positive therapeutic effect on patients’ psychiatric well-being. We seek to provide integrated open space, abundant natural light, and—where safe and appropriate, such as outpatient services—spaces of respite that offer comfort and well-being in addition to unparalleled patient security.

THE PATIENT EXPERIENCE. At MCA we use the design process as an opportunity to transform the patient care model.  We create a built environment that prevents harm and promotes healing. A therapeutic environment—absent of harsh lighting, overstimulating colors or patterns, and disorienting layouts—helps patients be more receptive to the staff-provided treatment by creating a non-threatening atmosphere where patients feel comfortable and relaxed.

BIOPHILIC DESIGN. We integrate biophilic design into our work—incorporating natural materials, natural light, and the spatial qualities of nature.  These elements create a sense of calm, safety and well-being for patients by appealing to the basic human inclination to connect with nature. We utilize lighting strategies to support natural sleep/wake cycles and impact healing and well-being.  We employ lighting color and intensity to influence physiology and reinforce patent and staff circadian patterns.  We understand that research indicates that blue light has an alerting effect, while warm light has a calming effect and that night lighting can help patients maintain circadian rhythms and is, thus, an important feature in both patient bedrooms and bathrooms.

RESEARCH BASED DESIGN. Our dedicated team works alongside experts in the field and are highly familiar with the resources available to designers. We work to understand and incorporate design elements that promote psychological well-being in hospitals to include a deinstitutionalized and well-organized setting; access to daylight, views of nature, and the outdoors; a sense of safety, security, and privacy; acoustic control; patient control over their own environment; and places for social interaction and positive distraction.

OUR BREADTH OF EXPERIENCE. Our projects include schools, crisis stabilization units, outpatient clinics, inpatient units of varying acuity levels, step residential treatment centers, group homes, and more.  MCA has completed over 500 projects—large and small—involving behavioral health elements for nearly 20 healthcare clients.  Our team stays on the cutting edge of treatment methods as behavioral health approaches have evolved.  MCA listens and responds—cultivating safe, serene settings conducive to patient rehabilitation that function seamlessly with research driven models of care.  With over 30 years of experience in behavioral health, MCA has an unmatched ability to support and enhance the latest models of care.

MCA’s healthcare specialists include EDAC certified professionals and designers who utilize an extensive knowledge base to implement decisions that are rooted in credible research. We care deeply about creating positive outcomes and identifying ways to improve your care model process. By truly analyzing your project and care delivery along with integrating biophilia, LEAN methodologies, and current research, we can establish clear value added opportunities to support better care and a healthy bottom line.

As health systems merge, adapt, and transition services between inpatient and outpatient care, it is important to understand what assets you have so that those physical resources can be aligned with your strategic plan as you move forward. We will work alongside you, from the beginning, to establish the correct data and clear vision for transforming your facility to be flexible and adaptable for future needs. Our services can include recording new properties, assessing older or existing holdings, and finding opportunities for better space management and utilization leading to increased organizational gain.

  • Our Practice

    MCA Ranks Top 50 Firms in Modern Healthcare

    MCA is thrilled to have once again ranked in the top 50 firms on the Modern Healthcare Construction and Design Survey for 2021 for the 22nd consecutive year!

    This is a national survey that tracks the dollar volume of construction costs for healthcare work completed in the year prior to publication. Our firm places exceptional importance on increasing our role in designing responsive healthcare facilities throughout the United States and internationally. We are honored to be recognized as leaders in our industry!

  • Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital

    Our Practice

    Maximize Functionality

    MCA takes pride in developing out-of-the-box solutions (literally).  The pandemic has challenged our healthcare clients to increase bed capacity without adding to the footprint of their current facilities.  MCA collaborates with stakeholders to develop innovative strategies for repurposing spaces that were designed for non-clinical uses.  To discover how we accomplish this while maintaining high patient care standards, check out the white paper on “Developing Non-Traditional Spaces for Patient Care” at the link below.

  • Preliminary field mockup of an Operating Room layout for hospital staff review & discussion

    Our Practice

    Innovative Methods + Best Practices

    I am particularly impressed by MCA’s ability to marshal the competing priorities of a variety of departments – facilities, finance, nursing administration, and infection control, etc. We take pride in thinking that as healthcare professionals we are always ‘living the job’. MCA not only lives their job, they live ours as well. -Large healthcare system client of 25+ years

    MCA will guide your team in the identification of best practices, which can ultimately improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery in an effective healing environment. The steps that we take during design will be tailored to your specific needs, but may include: mock-ups, interviews, focus groups / patient advocates, staff surveys, direct observation, and LEAN based exercises.  For more information on how we integrate LEAN into our design process, please read former MCA Healthcare Principal David Watts’ insight at the link below.

  • Our Practice

    Biophilic Design

    Biophilic design recognizes the intrinsic need and psychological benefits of connecting humans to nature. Healthcare architecture can establish psychological and emotional cues by integrating simulated natural materials, patterns with delineated and ordered complexity, natural light and spatial variability, and connections to nature and community.

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