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Western State Hospital, Staunton, Va.

Ballou Justice Upton Architects and CannonDesign Inc. designed Western State Hospital with metal mesh to support aesthetic and safety design goals.Ballou Justice Upton Architects and CannonDesign Inc. designed Western State Hospital with metal mesh to support aesthetic and safety design goals. The brick hospital has numerous V-shaped wings. Each wing has a stairwell and porches with framed sections of stainless steel mesh on the outside walls. McNICHOLS Co. supplied its 316 stainless steel, mill-finished Aura 8155 Decorative Wire Mesh with a 62 percent open area for the two-level, 25-foot by 10-foot by 28-foot stairwells and exterior of the stacked, first and second floor 15-foot by 17-foot by 14-foot porches. Outdoor space is accessed through aluminum doors with wire mesh infill panels.

Tyler Gifford, project manager at Balfour Beatty Construction, design-builder for the project, says, "[Mesh was installed on the porches and stairwells to create] a setting that is warm and inviting and conducive to patient rehabilitation, but at the same time withstands the environment of a psychiatric hospital through its durability and security."

Liphart Steel Co. Inc. constructed tube steel frames off-site to structurally support the wire mesh. A list of cut sizes and measurements was sent to McNICHOLS for trimming. The frames vary in size from 10 feet wide by 12 feet tall, to 20 feet wide by 27 feet tall. Molly Bransford, project manager at Liphart Steel, says the mesh was bolted into each frame with tamperproof screws for security. "It was an extra security measure to be sure no one could kick out the mesh," she says.

Dane Seagle, assistant project manager at Vanir Construction Management Inc., says security was essential. "But aesthetics were important so the hospital would not look so utilitarian," he says. "We didn't want it to look like a hospital or prison when viewed from afar."

The hospital was constructed in 1974 with multiple support buildings on a large 66-acre campus. The new hospital consolidated the buildings and services into one facility. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services licenses and operates the two-story, 338,900-square-foot health care facility, which was completed in 2013. It features 244 patient beds, activity spaces including a gymnasium, classrooms and game rooms. The backyards have grassy areas, picnic tables and basketball hoops.

Design-builder: Balfour Beatty Construction, Fairfax, Va.

Architect of record: Ballou Justice Upton Architects, Richmond, Va.

Design architect: CannonDesign, Arlington, Va.

Construction manager: Vanir Construction Management Inc., Richmond

Fabricator: Liphart Steel Co. Inc., Richmond,

Metal mesh: McNICHOLS Co., Tampa, Fla.,