Brattleboro Retreat New Adult Treatment Unit

Updated: Aug 11

Brattleboro, Vermont

Fitzemeyer & Tocci is providing full MEP/FP engineering and construction administration services for the design and construction of a new adult treatment unit at the Brattleboro Retreat in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Brattleboro Retreat is one of the state’s primary providers of mental health care and addiction treatment. Nationally recognized, the hospital is dedicated exclusively to providing mental health care for people of all ages.

The State of Vermont is sponsoring the project to increase capacity state-wide for these services. The project is being planned and executed by the Retreat, and required the reorganization of several existing units on campus in order to create a new, 12-bed acute psychiatric unit. The project is constructing the new unit on the first floor of the existing Linden Lodge building, with a 1,200 square foot addition to create an admitting and evaluation area. The new unit will accommodate up to 12 patients in private rooms.

The original concept for the renovation was to move mental health programming from the Tyler building of Brattleboro Retreat into Linden Lodge in order to make room for the new acute unit renovation to occur in the Tyler building, which already contains a variety of inpatient services. After a schematic design study and review of construction cost, schedule and future expansion capability, it was decided that the state-funded 12-bed unit would be constructed in the first floor of Linden Lodge and the Tyler building programming would remain in place. While the available space in the Linden Lodge fit the proposed program well, the age of the building presented many design challenges.


The building, which was originally constructed in 1857, is primarily masonry wall construction with outdated envelope, has structural concrete beams which limit locations and routing of utilities, and does not have central cooling equipment supporting the building. We analyzed several HVAC system options with the Owner, Architect, Construction Manager, and state utility efficiency program personnel, to determine the best path forward for both the project and future potential use of the building.

The best-fit solution to these physical building challenges was to provide space conditioning with two-pipe fan coil units within floor mounted, mental-health-secure, architectural millwork enclosures. This two-pipe change over system will be served from the main campus heating and cooling plant that changes over manually from heating and cooling as the seasons change. The design team met the challenge of providing aesthetically pleasing infrastructure elements within an older building that also meet a specific level of patient safety. Architectural millwork was not only used for the fan coil unit enclosures but also the patient clothes storage located above the fan coil unit enclosure. These enclosures were designed to fit within the existing patient room closets to make use of as much available space as possible since another physical limitation of the building was limited floor space and masonry construction of the existing rooms.

In the initial infrastructure evaluation it was identified that the existing building did not have any centralized mechanical ventilation or cooling and the existing domestic water and electrical services did not have enough capacity to support the existing building, renovation and addition. F&T was able to design new ventilation, heating, cooling and domestic water systems to meet the needs of the project and provide flexible concepts with the ability to upgrade and expand systems throughout the rest of the Linden building in the future.

We worked in conjunction with the construction manager (HP Cummings Construction Company) to review the pros and cons of several design options to ensure the costs of the implemented concepts stayed within the pre-established project budget. The Retreat's Facilities department was an integral part of this process to provide critical feedback on potential future building use, the best system options for their operations & maintenance team, and coordination with planned campus infrastructure upgrades. With this team cooperation, and despite the Linden building being separated from the rest of the campus by a public street, we were able to leverage campus systems to the greatest extent possible; minimizing the cost and maintenance impact of this project to the facility. This project results in a Linden building with more potential expansion space for the Retreat.


Estimated Completion Date: Summer 2020

Architect: Lavallee Brensinger Architects



Written by:

Stephen Picariello, PE Jason Butler, PE

Project Manager Healthcare Market Leader

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