Humans naturally seek adventure and the outdoors. Currently, US institutions that care for people with chronic illnesses, severe injuries, and mental health conditions often exist in neutral spaces with little to no natural elements. Because this does not promote patient happiness, patient recovery time tends to be longer. These institutions are usually not pleasant for patients or their relatives and are seen as negative spaces by the public, which should not be the case. Typical design elements include windows with thick daylight-blocking mullions to ensure no patient tries to hurt themselves, small and dark rooms, white walls, and no private spaces. This thesis examines how natural elements affect the human mind and body and how biophilic architecture reduces alienation from a built space and from natural environments. To best reveal how a designer can create spaces that positively influence people’s mental and physical health, a benchmark for the minimum requirements of biophilic design is defined. Subsequently, the findings are applied to the design of a health behavioral center to contrast a typical health institution of this kind with a building created using biophilic strategies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mental health facilities--Design; Psychiatric hospitals--Design; Architecture--Environmental aspects; Organic architecture; Nature--Psychological aspects

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Julius J. Chiavaroli

Advisor/Committee Member

Dennis A. Andrejko


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes