Brookline Center for Community Mental Health

Location: Brookline, MA
Size: 12,148 SF

The Brookline Center for Community Mental Health (BCCMH) provides affordable mental health care and community-based social services to individuals and families. Located in a historic brownstone that was only partially accessible, BCCMH hired studioMLA Architects to conduct a feasibility study and then a renovation to improve functionality and user experience on a limited budget with relatively limited strategic interventions. Through building analyses and a series of focus groups with multiple user groups, including clinicians, administrators, staff, and Board members, the studioMLA team identified the building’s challenges and areas for improvement, internally and externally. The BCCMH staff did not have enough clinical space for the current number of patients. There was no consistency from one clinical room to the next, and the staff lacked their own quality space. Several themes emerged, including accessibility, order, and predictability, and maximizing the usability of spaces.

With the challenges identified, studioMLA created three simultaneous design options with varying degrees of intervention, from cosmetic upgrades to a full building addition, and presented the options to the Board. The Board selected the option that focused on high-priority upgrades with incremental improvements to lighting, acoustics, circulation, storage, and accessibility. studioMLA completed interior renovations, exterior ramp, and landscape design in January 2021. In the wake of COVID-19, the spaces are in higher demand than ever before. The renovation significantly improved the space crunch.