Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department


Committee Member

David Allison

Committee Member

Byron Edwards

Committee Member

Windsor Sherrill


School Based Health Centers (SBHC) have traditionally gone unacknowledged for their support in providing essential healthcare services to underserved school-aged children. The well-being of these students and their communities rely heavily on a safe, efficient and encouraging physical and responsive environment for successful health outcomes. Literature reveals that the negative health and intricate social issues that face the American youth are stunting growth in academic performance and promoting high risk health behaviors through adulthood. To help eliminate the difficulty in access to healthcare for the underserved, healthcare must be brought to them. The School Based Health Center represents a unique position to alleviate many debilitating obstacles such as poor Communication , lack of transportation, strain on the healthcare system and the high cost of basic medical and mental care. Currently, the built environment of SBHCs are not held to a standard of design necessary to deliver quality health. A set of design principles and guidelines are essential to building future centers successfully that support the health and well being of students and their communities. Unfortunately, limited funding has resulted in a low design quality in School Based Health Centers, creating conditions that do not adequately support optimal healthcare and health education. Makeshift classrooms, bungalows and spare rooms represent a majority of centers that cannot fully realize their impact on students, family and the community. The often hostile exteriors and exposed interiors can create a stressful experience that rarely provides a healing and encouraging environment. The few detached centers that exist are quickly becoming models for new construction and renovations to older sites. Advances in modular construction are paving new ways of providing an affordable setting for school based health services coupled with customizable design features. The importance of SBHCs has been well documented, but guidelines to select appropriate sites and design facilities are scarce. In this thesis, site selection, design principles, guidelines and concepts are developed through research in literature, site visits and case studies of current centers. The County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District were studied to demonstrate context for selecting sites based on the health and social issues that prevail throughout the United States. Studies in Los Angeles on the juxtaposition of the prevalence of high risk behaviors, such as family income, teen pregnancy rates and obesity, in corresponding middle and high schools revealed a strong correlation between low socio-economic conditions and health. Areas in most need of a SBHC were easily identified with many overlapping high risk behaviors occurring in a several concentrated neighborhoods. To best serve student patients and their communities, the promotion of patient and community-based care values, affordability, sustainability, staff satisfaction and efficiency should direct each architectural design decision. Through the development of these guidelines, School Based Health Centers will have important new tools to create environments that support the holistic well-being of students and their surrounding support system.



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