NEW CANAAN — The admissions building at the renowned psychiatric Silver Hill Hospital on Valley Road — a place where celebrities like Michael Jackson and Billy Joel have gone for treatment — just got a major upgrade.

The Sigurd Ackerman, MD Center for Evaluation and Admissions, the new 8,000-square-foot building named after the former president and medical director of the hospital, opened its doors at the end of September.

The recently inaugurated admissions building replaces what was described as an old family house that served a similar purpose, yet was too small to accommodate patients and other personnel comfortably.

“The building that was originally here had been adapted to do admissions,” Director of Admissions Rista Luna said. “That was one of the identifying needs — it’s better for the hospital for patients to be received through here.”

Construction efforts began in May 2017, with Richard Turlington Architects of New Haven and the PAC Group of Torrington in charge.

“The style of architecture that we tried to capture has been focused on making patients feel like they’re in a residential setting and respected,” Richard Turlington, principal of the eponymous architectural firm, said via phone. “It’s all incorporated into a design that is unobtrusive.”

There are multiple windows along the walkways and offices so, even when it is raining, natural light illuminates the space and offers a view of the forested landscape. An exterior courtyard with a small fountain is nestled between the building’s two walkways.

The architect wanted to make sure patients felt at ease from the moment they got out of their car to walk to the admissions building.

“There is a tension for people who are arriving, and also their family members. They get to walk along this open arcade along an outdoor garden setting before they enter and exit the building,” Turlington said.

The new building boasts three private family waiting rooms, rooms with emergency medical equipment on the first floor and on the second floor, and an “alumni and family resources” room upstairs.

“Here we keep our relationships with the patient and the family even after they leave,” said Dennis Dolan, chief financial officer and interim CEO of the hospital. “If a former patient or family is looking for help or assistance or have any questions, they can come here.”

Privacy was something the hospital strived for in the new design.

“Before we had a general waiting area where everyone was together, and now every patient and their families have their own space,” Luna said.

The completion of the admissions building was part of a 12-year campus project that sought to renovate and redesign aspects of the hospital’s 44-acre property.

“It’s definitely a place to walk and it forces you to re-center yourself. You’re not in this frenetic environment — it’s a calming effect and one of the biggest successes at Silver Hill,” Turlington said.

humberto.juarez@

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