Designing a Better Level of Care for Military Veterans

July 26, 2016

Michael Baker provided design services to Veteran Affairs Clinic in Louisiana

The recent completion of a $9.5-million contract for the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide interior and exterior design services for a new LEED Silver-Certified Veterans Affairs Clinic in Lake Charles, Louisiana, emphasizes Michael Baker International’s longstanding commitment to support U.S. military veterans returning home after completing their service.

The Michael Baker team dedicated significant time and resources to the extensive design plan for the nearly 32,000 square foot VA clinic. Billed as an outpatient facility offering services that include: internal medicine, psychiatry and physical therapy, it will rely on Michael Baker’s design services for the internal look and for fire protection, plumbing and electrical schematics, and will include general external planning that excludes landscaping and general civil services. With the project’s rapid timeline for completion—currently scheduled for Spring, 2017—it will open for patient care in the summer of 2017. 
 
“The new VA clinic in Lake Charles poses exciting challenges for Michael Baker. The short design and construction timeline coupled with the shifting scope of work has provided our team the opportunity to flex our creative muscles and create a dynamic space,” said Bruce Preston, associate vice president, operations manager for architecture and building engineering at Michael Baker, and project manager for the VA clinic. “Ultimately, the design Michael Baker delivered is a marked improvement over the existing facility and demonstrates that ‘We Make a Difference’ in enabling area veterans to receive the superior care they deserve.”
 
Initially planned as a retrofit of an existing metal-framed structure, the new VA outpatient facility guidelines, based on the Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT) model, necessitated a different building footprint requiring a major overhaul of the design. The shift in project scope afforded Michael Baker designers the opportunity to design a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing clinic where doctors can provide patients with the necessary outpatient care in a more flexible environment.  
 
The Lake Charles VA clinic marks Michael Baker’s first contract with the VA as part of the department’s “Lease Back Program.” A key component of the program is private companies contracting to build a facility that the VA rents for a twenty-year term with the intent to purchase following that period.
 
To complete the VA clinic, Michael Baker is working with SDA, Inc., a Colorado-based developer building its fifth VA facility; The Korte Company, which serves as the general contractor; C.H. Fenstermaker, which is providing civil engineering support; and Land Architecture, which is designing the landscape architecture.