Space matters.  When The Alex moved into our new facility in June of 2017, we were focused on some big challenges; how do we transform a manufacturing plant into a multi-purpose, multi-program social and medical space? How will we fit over 200 staff into the building? Where is everyone going to park? 

As trades worked overtime to complete the build in the former Honeywell building just off of Memorial and 28 Ave SE, we packed up our Family and Youth Health Centres, administration and Housing program offices, and formally moved into into our new home. 

We were excited to expand our medical facilities to 3x their former sizes and to more than double the space for our Youth drop-in program. The new building had a lot to offer our organization, and really represented just how much The Alex had grown in the past decade. With everyone under one roof, our visibility increased, and so did our client-base.

Our hallways before the environmental design, prepped for the big change

For the folks who would come for a doctor’s appointment, to fill a prescription, talk to a counsellor, take part in a yoga class, use a computer, meet with a job-skills trainer (the list goes on…) the new Alex Community Health Centre was intended to feel warm and welcoming. And for the most part, because of our incredible front-line staff, we were embodying these ideals.

…Until you turned the corner and walked down the hallways of our medical clinics.

What we discovered was that in our haste to get the facility running, we hadn’t given enough consideration to how the building made you feel. And in its current state, it didn’t feel too great.

So we began a process to bring the space to life – consulting with community members and staff, and working with the incredible team at Atom Studio to come up with a bright, new approach to our exam spaces. The vision was to bring a combination of natural elements, playful colors, and bold statements to the space, to create a sense of comfort, friendliness and calm for those visiting our building for their medical appointments.

The initial design brief by Atom Studio – incorporating natural elements, birch wood, and vivid color blocking.
We decided to roll this concept out in our medical spaces first because the area was clearly defined and complete. For other areas of our building, where we were (and are) still determining the best floor plans and people flow, the design concepts are waiting as soon as the spaces are ready.

We had amazing help from the team at The Urban Painter, incredible volunteer supports from Nutrien and Secure Energy and very patient Alex teams who worked around the painting (87 doors!) and installations like true champs.  Here are the results – come visit us and see the space!

Secure Energy volunteers spent an afternoon taping and painting
A glimpse into the process of installing 1 of the 6 vinyl murals.
Action shot from some dedicated volunteers!
Nutrien volunteers priming and painting over 80 doors!