JLG, Mortenson Construction build center’s pathway to the future

Jamestown’s Anne Carlsen Center project on time, on budget

Construction on the new Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown, North Dakota, is more than three-quarters complete. The last structural beam was placed June 12, and the milestone moment was celebrated with a signing of the beam by officials from the state, city and Anne Carlsen Center. It’s expected to be operational by spring 2024.

JLG Architects, Fargo, designed the new facility, which is being built by Mortenson Construction, also of Fargo.

Todd Medd, principal health care studio director with JLG Architects, and Mark Honzay, principal health care architect, gave an update on the project and explained what it means to the community.

“The Anne Carsen Center already has a campus in Jamestown. It’s served them well but they’re running out of space and they need to advance technology and features,” Honzay said. “The building was built in the 1940s. It’s just not flexible for them anymore.”

The new facility is situated directly east of Jamestown Regional Medical Center, south of Interstate 94, which will showcase its presence in the community and state, one of the center’s goals.

The nearly 110,000-square-foot center sits on a 21-acre site and will support 34 individuals, including 24 with medically complex needs and 10 with more behavioral challenges, the Jamestown Sun reported in mid-June.

The center is comprised of six smaller buildings that are connected by a concourse that encloses an expansive outdoor courtyard.

“That was by design. They wanted to have all of the kids and residents be able to gravitate toward this outdoor courtyard. This big outdoor space is surrounded by buildings,” Honzay said.

The circulation path or concourse, also affectionately referred to as the “racetrack,” will allow children to ride their bikes, motorized scooters or other devices around the building, see people coming and going, and give views of nature through large windows that open to the courtyard.

“They can really roam this building safely,” Honzay said.

The center will feature administrative and leadership space, inpatient and outpatient therapy areas and a large multipurpose space that can be used for school, meets, gymnasium, chapel and special events, such as prom or movie nights.

There’s an aquatic room with a movable-bottom pool, which allows the pool to mechanically adjust from zero depth down to 3.5 feet deep. If someone has issues with walking or moving, staff can put them in the pool, lower the pool depth to whatever height works best for them and then do therapy in that pool, Honzay explained.

Anne Carlsen Center is the primary physical therapy provider for Stutsman County on an outpatient basis, but it also serves all of the students that live and learn in the facility.

“They have not only the residents going to that school, but day students that come in. It’s a much more interventional educational model for the region,” Medd said.

When the original center was created, it was set up for different types of student needs, including children with polio. Care has transitioned over the years as polio has been nearly eradicated, and now focuses more on medically-fragile children, Medd explained.

“Acuity has increased for a lot of their residents on the medically-fragile side, but also on the behavioral side. It’s been really a huge increase in patients on the autism spectrum. So trying to meet those needs as well is a big goal,” Medd said. “Anne Carlsen Center has done a nice job of adapting to the changes and needs of those residents and the kids in our region.”

The center’s guiding principles – which the architects used while designing the new spaces – include flexibility for students, visiting families and staff; teamwork and collaborative space; visibility balanced with privacy; and embracing technology, among others.

“They are very proud they’re an Apple-certified provider,” Honzay said. “Apple has given them this elite accreditation that their products are applicable to the technology that they have.”

The center also wants to recruit and retain top talent, but most importantly, focuses on individualized care. In this new facility, each resident will have their own bedroom and most will have private bathrooms. The residents currently share bedroom and bathroom spaces.

“One of the challenges is when mom and dad come and they didn’t have a space to feel comfortable with their children. In the current design, they can stay in that room, and it has much better facilities for cooking, so they can work with them on decorating cookies for Christmas or other activities,” Medd said. “It’s much more of a welcoming space for not only the children, but the families coming to visit them.”

The project was designed during the pandemic, and virtual meetings were used to plan and design the new center. When supply chain issues challenged the project, the team pivoted and chose alternate manufacturers, for example.

“Mortenson (Construction) has been great every step of the way giving us options instead of problems,” Honzay said. “Anne Carlsen Center has been great, too, saying ‘This is what we wanted but we’re OK pivoting to get it when we want it.’ It’s worked nicely.”

“It’s such a unique facility. Beginning with the design, we looked at case studies and there are just not a lot of facilities that do what Anne Carlsen Center does. They’ve really elevated to the needs of our state and our region to provide that care,” Medd said. “We feel a well-designed building can help heal these kids and help caregivers deliver the care. So for us to be able to have that opportunity is a blessing, to elevate that level of care that they can give these families.”

The community has made a large impact on the robust capital campaign to construct the new facility.

“They have a board that’s been very engaged in raising those funds and have some great donors from across the region and the nation that have invested in the project,” Medd said.

“It’s been great to see that outpouring of support for the Anne Carlsen Center.”

“Both Todd and I are parents and it’s pretty emotional going through that facility and seeing the struggles these kids have been dealt and how Anne Carlsen Center helps care for them,” Honzay added. “We feel pretty fortunate to go home and hug our kids knowing we’re pretty blessed to not have those issues. The fact that this is right down the road in Jamestown, that this type of care is provided in the region, is huge for families that are dealing with those challenges.”