Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center Recognized by American Institute of Architects

Rancho Los Amigos - SmithGroup

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recognized the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, California, in its prestigious 2021 Healthcare Design Awards program. SmithGroup led the development of a master plan, architectural and interior design for the complete transformation of the campus, creating a holistic, human-centered environment for wellness, supported by executive architect Taylor Design.

Each year, the AIA Healthcare Design Awards showcase the best of healthcare building design, planning and research. The projects honored are designed to help solve aesthetic, civic, urban and social challenges while also being functional and sustainable.

Rancho Los Amigos has seen many incarnations in its century-long history, and today is known as a premier recovery and rehabilitation center for patients with spinal cord and brain injuries. Once threatened with closure, the campus focuses on creating an inclusive community supported by its design.

Drawing inspiration from a historic Mission Revival building on the site, new and renovated structures are placed around a central plaza defining a new heart of the campus. Accentuating the now cohesive campus and providing a wayfinding cue, an iconic, 107-foot tower gestures to this history while bringing in modern textural elements. Buildings are clad in an undulating, perforated metal scrim reminiscent of the massive orange groves that once dominated the site.

Designed as an indoor-outdoor recovery zone, treatment extends beyond the walls of the hospital facilities. Expansive, dual-purpose outdoor rooms double as rehabilitation spaces, laced by a ribbon of healing gardens and terraces, large plazas, and amphitheaters. The materiality of the exterior, the looping pathways of the gardens and finishes in the interior are a subtle nod to the weaving art therapy that was once synonymous with Rancho.

The planning, design and sustainability of Rancho Los Amigos has been repeatedly honored in numerous awards programs, including Fast Company Innovation by Design in 2019; Building Design + Construction Building Team Award in 2019; USGBC Los Angeles Sustainable Innovation Award in 2017; AIA Pasadena and Foothill Design Awards in 2017; and Contract Magazine Healthcare Environment Awards in 2015.

SmithGroup's Los Angeles office provided integrated design services including master planning, medical planning, architecture, interior architecture, and lighting design. McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. (San Diego) served as the general contractor in the design-build relationship. Other key design team members include SASCO (Los Angeles) as electrical engineer; Murray Company Mechanical Contractors (Rancho Dominguez, Calif.) as plumbing designer; IMEG Corporation (Los Angeles) as structural engineer; Psomas (Los Angeles) as civil engineer; and KSA Design Studio (Culver City, Calif.) as landscape architect.