Considering the implications of design on the care of autism patients at ATC
The Autism Treatment Center of San Antonio (ATC) partnered with our architectural team to design a new facility that would be completed in two phases. Phase I is a treatment and therapy center, meant to work with children on developing sensory and social interaction skills through active therapy in a group lab, as well as one-on-one therapy. Phase II will be a school with curriculum and instructional methodology tailored to students with autism.
As the architects researched autism, they became increasingly aware of the implications the design would have on the building’s users—many aspects had to be considered. From carpet pattern to artificial lighting, door spacing, and wall texture, everything has tremendous meaning to autistic children. A series of six design parameters were established: acoustics, spatial sequencing, natural light vs. artificial light, material, therapeutic horticulture, and architectural rhythms.
Phase II expands ATCs campus by 30,000 square feet (2,790 square metres) with specialized spaces designed specifically for children and adults with autism. The expanded care program includes: diagnostics, therapy, school program, eight fully-equipped classrooms, adult services, horticulture therapy garden, a training kitchen, vocational space, nursing services, and university research partnerships.
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