This healthcare center maximizes energy use and greenery


The Rancho Los Amigos Recuperative Care Center by GGA+ Architects is a healthcare campus in Downey, California. It is located on the northeast border of the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital campus, near the neighboring residential areas. In the past, the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center was a key healthcare facility in the area. Inspired by the rehabilitation center’s rich history, the RCC seeks to emulate the levels of profound care in the present day. The care center also fosters a deep connection to the surrounding landscape, maximizing sustainable strategies and promoting nature as a tool for healing.

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View from the back of a healthcare building surrounded by neatly-planted shrubs

The Recuperative Care Center (RCC) consists of the primary clinic centered around five Residential Treatment Program (RTP) buildings. The RCC has 50 beds with additional space dedicated to administration and support staff. The RTP buildings contain a total of 80 beds and are spaces that provide more intensive treatment programs. These spaces are geared to those suffering from psychiatric disorders or requiring extra care for physical trauma.

Related: An autism-friendly hospital emphasizes nature for resiliency and healing

Neatly-planted landscaping in irregular shaped plots, nestled between buildings

For the overall design, the architects referenced the layout of a farming village as an homage to the site. By taking into consideration pre-existing site conditions, the campus buildings match the scale of the nearby residential areas and thus fit into the overall urban context. Additionally, the designers made an effort to preserve large trees on the plot and create a geospatial sense of yard privacy. Thereby, the healthcare facilities are arranged organically between natural elements.

Dining area with square tables with four chairs each and a TV on the back wall

One of the key features of the project is its gorgeous landscaping. Here, natural elements evoke tranquility and tie the project together. The gardens separated by decomposed granite paths feature drought-tolerant vegetation, which is irrigated using a greywater system. The site also has a special pollinator garden dedicated to habitat restoration. To further create a comfortable microclimate on site, parking lot spaces have been cool-coated to reduce the heat island effect.

Two single beds with side cabinets against a mint-colored wall. The door to the adjacent bathroom is open

To power the campus, photovoltaic panels produce renewable energy. In order to maximize energy efficiency, all six buildings use high-efficiency Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) mechanical systems. VRF systems are large-scale heating and cooling systems that can perform at high capacities. These support the energy-efficient glazing in the fully-insulated buildings. Furthermore, the RCC’s communication services also optimize energy use. A low voltage Distributed Antenna System (DAS) has been installed to bolster emergency communication services.

Two tables with four chairs with tall windows looking out to the surrounding campus

The Rancho Los Amigos Recuperative Care Center brings together passive and active design strategies for an environmentally-friendly project. Because of its impressive energy efficiency and meticulous landscaping details, it is currently undergoing LEED Gold Certification.

+ GGA+ Architects

Images via GGA+ Architects



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