Given its stated goal of designing “distinct places where communities of people connect and thrive,” Seattle- based GGLO Design was the ideal partner to update the existing infrastructure on the Ryther Campus, a residential treatment facility for adolescent youth in need of mental health and addiction treatment. GGLO
was chosen specifically for a substantial remodel of four cottages on Ryther’s main campus that serves children
from grades K- 12 with intensive mental health concerns with the goal of making
the facilities safer, healthier, and more inspiring for the children and staff.
The design team had to overcome an array of challenges ranging from minimal
funding, anti-ligature plumbing fixtures and window treatments, color theory and
behavior consequences, to heat-resistant materials and surface treatments (to
deter lice and bed bugs). In spite of these hurdles, GGLO successfully created
a safe, home-like atmosphere that children can thrive in—thanks in large part
to the generosity and creativity of their partners, including Abbott Construction,
Blockhouse Furniture, and many others.
“Finances were a huge challenge, which is why we need to give back to companies
and the vendors that really helped us make this possible, because without having
some materials donated at cost and without having some design work [donated]
from the furniture [manufacturers] and custom casework builder, we would
not have been able to do as much design work as we did,” explained Randa
Morgan, ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP® ID+C, and interior design lead at GGLO.
“Everybody came together to help face the challenge of finance.”
The design team worked closely with the Ryther staff as well to gain insight into how
to make the space the most effective for the end users—the children who were the driv-
ing factor behind the design decisions for the entire project. “The people who work the
closest with these kids, they were really the ones who could help us design; without their
input on how these children live, we wouldn’t have been as successful,” Morgan said.
GGLO also partnered with manufacturers to develop products that were resilient
and secure, but without looking like institutional furniture. “We wanted to make sure we
created an environment that can’t be destroyed or taken apart, and were trying to do
that in a subtle way without making it look institutional, and make it more like home,”
noted Mike Moedritzer, AIA, project architect at GGLO. “That’s important, that aspect.”
The four cottages offer a home-like setting where children have their own rooms
and share family-style meals with staff and peers. Also, with a K- 8 school and covered
play area arranged around a large, green, grassy field, their campus is uniquely suited
for experiential activities like playing catch with a therapy dog, climbing a challenge
wall, playing basketball with a therapist, hiking a nature trail, or planting seeds in sur-
rounding gardens. Families visiting the campus can stay overnight in the Family Center
to get ample time shadowing staff in the cottages or participating in family therapy.
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BLOCKHOUSE FURNITURE COMPANY, INC.
The design team at GGLO asked Blockhouse how they could
leverage the manufacturer’s expertise in producing durable
furniture to create something less intimidating and more
intimate for kids so they feel safe and loved. Blockhouse
donated design time for custom furnishings and was very
flexible, delivering an end product at cost and on schedule,
and met the team’s desire for a warm aesthetic.
Mannington Commercial donated its Realities heterogeneous
sheet flooring to the Ryther project at a reduced cost to help
with the significant funding challenges.
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