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Walden Behavioral Care

Center for Recovery

project description

Walden Behavioral Care is the nation’s largest inpatient and residential eating disorder treatment provider. Walden sought to create a flagship treatment center in Dedham, MA that would provide for the growing demand for eating disorder treatment in a relaxing and restorative non-institutional setting.

The Walden Behavioral Care Center for Recovery has completely renovated a four-story former skilled nursing facility. The center provides two standards of treatment, inpatient psychiatric and residential programs. Both require 24-hour care with bedrooms, social and dining spaces, and counseling rooms. There is a total of 82 beds: 46 of inpatient, 32 of residential, and 4 swing beds, and include both adolescent and adult populations. These are contained within distinct units which also include toilet and washrooms, staff, and nursing spaces, as well as support spaces per the different treatment modalities. Patients have access to art, music and movement therapy provided by natural light-filled spaces.

Inpatient psychiatric spaces must respond to a particular set of constraints to enhance the safety and security for patients and staff. However, whenever possible, these elements are either custom designed, built-in, and/or minimized with color, texture, and contours. The inpatient bedrooms and social spaces have been designed to minimize the any sense of an institutional setting. Instead of using obvious behavioral health contract furniture, we designed custom millwork for built-in wardrobes, nightstands, bookcases, and upholstered benches. In the inpatient bedrooms, custom headboards provide a sense of familiarity with coordinating finishes and a patient-controlled reading light. Access and patient control of natural light is important to these spaces as well and is provided with custom ligature-resistant security windows with integral blinds. All these design interventions enhance the overall aesthetic of the space.

The preparation and eating meals is an essential aspect of the treatment of eating disorders. Cooking and dining spaces received special care and attention. The residential program areas, have full kitchens incorporated with the dining area. This ‘open concept’ model mimics more closely a patient’s personal experience to reinforce the skills and good habits attained when transitioning back to home. The living room space is located directly across from the combined kitchen-dining as another gesture of connectivity. There is also a ‘coaching kitchen’ located on the ground floor adjacent to the main commercial kitchen, where one-on-one training can be accommodated. 

Walden Behavioral Care has been recognized as a ‘LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader’ by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation which provides a welcoming environment for LGBTQ patients, visitors, and employees. Therefore, all the toilet and washroom facilities are gender neutral and grouped in pairs. The interior design scheme focused on a non-gendered set of finishes and fabrics.

This Center for Recovery is a facility that has been built on Walden’s extensive experience in the treatment of eating disorders integrating inclusivity and design to create a restorative and uplifting environment for their patients.


Completed 2020


64,000 sf


Dedham, MA

images by

Flylisted Photography

interiors by

McGuinness Group

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