News Release: Baker Barrios Architects Announces Completion of 50-Unit Veterans Affairs Domiciliary in Detroit

Project is an adaptive reuse of a two-story office building constructed in 2008

CHICAGO (Feb. 28, 2023)Baker Barrios Architects has announced the completion of a 32,248-square-foot Veterans Affairs domiciliary and health clinic in Detroit. In addition to the clinic, the building includes 50 transitional residential units, a computer lab, therapy rooms, clubhouse, indoor and outdoor multipurpose spaces, and administrative offices. Originally constructed in 2008, the property previously housed the corporate offices for the Michigan Basic Property Insurance Association.

Baker Barrios Architects announced the completion of a 32,248-square-foot Veterans Affairs domiciliary and health clinic in Detroit. The Orlando-based firm oversaw the design of the adaptive reuse project, which converted a former office building into the housing and health clinic to support the mission of the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center.

The project is designed to support the mission of the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center by offering a safe home with programming to help male and female veterans establish a path to independent living.

“A project like this domiciliary takes an especially thoughtful approach in considering all potential stakeholders, including future residents and the clinicians who serve them. There was a great deal to address, such as ensuring the healthcare facilities were state-of-the-art and that the practical services of daily living, including cafeteria-style food prep and service,were met,” said John Slavens, principal and healthcare practice lead at Baker Barrios Architects. “But above all, we wanted it to be an inviting space that feels like home, providing a supportive and inclusive place for those who have served our country as they focus on getting back on their feet and enjoying a better quality of life.”

Of the 50 residential units, 10 are secured rooms for female veterans that include access to a females-only lounge and laundry area. The other 40 are for male residents. All residents have access to the computer lab, where computer and job-training programs are available; the multipurpose spaces, where social and recreational programming occurs; a modern health clinic offering behavioral and mental health counseling, rehabilitation treatment and wellness programming; and the dining room, which provides daily meal service for residents and visitors. The common dining room features a large dome atrium, an example of the design elements incorporated throughout the building that maximize natural light, which is beneficial for both resident wellness and energy efficiency.

“When designing the domiciliary, the Baker Barrios team applied a number of biophilic principles, including incorporating plenty of daylight and providing a connection with the outdoors,” said Slavens. “Countless studies have shown the physical and emotional benefits of thoughtful design, and adding these features is one more way the VA can help ensure the best outcomes for the veterans they serve through the Domiciliary Care Program.”

The Domiciliary Care Program, which is now integrated with the VA’s Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation and Treatment Program (MH RRTP), is the Department of Veterans Affairs oldest health care program. Established in the 1860s, the program’s purpose was to provide a home for disabled volunteer soldiers of the Civil War. It has evolved from a residential-only program into an active clinical rehabilitation and treatment program, where the residential component incorporates clinical treatment gains into a lifestyle of self-care and personal responsibility.

This marks the fifth project Baker Barrios Architects has completed for the VA in the past four years. Other projects include renovations to the VA Community Living Resource Center as well as to the VA Women’s Health Clinic, both located in West Palm Beach, Fla.; an adaptive reuse of a big-box retail center into a Community Based Outpatient Center in North Pinellas, Fla.; and ground-up design for a Community Based Outpatient Center in Saginaw, Mich., which included a complete ophthalmology clinic and multiple audiology booths.

To learn more about the Department of Veterans Affairs programming, visit For more information on Baker Barrios and to view current and past projects, visit

About Baker Barrios Architects:

Baker Barrios Architects was established in 1993, founded on the belief in creative excellence, innovative solutions and long-term relationships. The firm tells their client’s story through placemaking and creative design. Baker Barrios maintains a high level of involvement through a project’s completion to ensure the owner’s objectives are met, and the integrity of design is maintained even after occupancy. The staff of highly trained professionals is experienced in a variety of assignments for developers, corporations, health care providers, religious organizations, state and local agencies, and colleges and universities, providing full-service planning, architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture services.

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