Bernards is leading the construction and HOK is leading the design, in partnership with Los Angeles County Public Works.
Award-winning African-American architect Paul Revere Williams designed the original Martin Luther King, Jr./Drew Medical Center, which opened to provide the Watts-Willowbrook community with improved healthcare in the wake of the 1965 Watts Uprising. The building closed in 2007 while the surrounding medical campus has grown over the last decade to include the MLK Community Hospital, Outpatient Center, Recuperative Care Center, and several other healthcare facilities.
Championed by Los Angeles County Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the new MLK Behavioral Health Center will house clinical and behavioral staff to provide mental and public health services, as well as workforce, diversion and reentry services.
“When the old hospital shut its doors, few could have imagined this building would have a meaningful second act,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “And yet, we are moving forward with a vision of renewal, transformation and innovation. When this building reopens as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Behavioral Health Center, it will provide so many people with much needed healing, hope and the promise of a better future.”
The center’s design creates a warm and nurturing “one-stop-shop” that emphasizes a sense of belonging, self-respect and healing. The project upgrades various building systems, provides exterior facade and site improvements, refreshes the building and entrance canopy and repurposes the building’s rooftop and courtyards for recreational use. Beyond improving the lives of individual patients, the design and programming also address community health, providing a peer resource center and conference rooms for public use.
By preserving the original five-story building, the renovation reduces demolition and construction costs, as well as the amount of embodied carbon associated with new construction. The design is targeting LEED-Silver certification with improvements to the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) systems that will increase energy and water-use efficiency. Solar power generated onsite will decrease the center’s reliance on the local energy grid.
“HOK understands the critical need to provide access to behavioral health treatment in an outpatient and residential setting to promote recovery success,” said Hunvey Chen, regional leader of Healthcare at HOK. “The Martin Luther King, Jr. Behavioral Health Center will provide a safe, home-like environment for integrated County services. As neighbors in the community, we are thrilled to team with Los Angeles County, Bernards and the entire design-build team on the reuse of this healthcare facility to expand the continuum of care.”
Construction site mobilization began in January 2020. Phase I of the project is scheduled to be completed in October 2020, with completion of Phase II scheduled for June 2021.
Founded in 1974, Bernards is a nationally-ranked, employee-owned multidisciplinary commercial builder that provides technical expertise and professional services to a wide variety of private and public sector clients. Areas of expertise include comprehensive preconstruction, general contracting and construction management services, each of which integrate sustainable building practices and are supported by Bernards’ advanced technology tools. The company’s project experience includes healthcare facilities, mixed-use/multi-family residential complexes, detention projects, sports and entertainment venues, and a variety of educational and civic facilities. Bernards maintains a continual focus on safety, quality, sustainability, diversity and community involvement. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Bernards also has four regional offices throughout California and employs more than 330 professionals.
With offices around the globe, HOK designs buildings and spaces that respond to the needs of people and the environment. HOK designers are rooted in technical excellence, driven by imagination and focused on a solitary goal: to deliver solutions that inspire clients and communities. HOK’s current and recent healthcare projects in the Southern California area include Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical Offices, Cedars-Sinai Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion, Ventura County Medical Center Replacement Wing, Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, and Veterans Affairs Long Beach Mental Health Buildings and Community Living Center.