30 Most Inspiring-Looking Counseling Centers in the World

by Amy Bell

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After sweating it out to earn that coveted counseling degree, the next step for graduates is to land their first job. There are many potential avenues to explore, with counselors able to secure employment everywhere from colleges and clinics to hospitals and charities. Often, these facilities don’t just do good but look great as well. Counseling services around the world are housed in some stunning-looking buildings, occasionally designed by world-famous architects. These attractive environments may not only help encourage patrons’ wellness and relaxation, but also motivate employees. Read on for 30 of the most inspiring-looking counseling centers in the world.

30. Maggie’s Fife – Fife, U.K.

30. Maggie’s Fife – Fife, U.K.

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The arresting, pointed look of Maggie’s Fife – which is located on the grounds of the Victoria Hospital in the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy, Fife – really makes the cancer care facility stick out in style. The building was designed by London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects, which is led by the Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning British-Iraqi architect it’s named after. According to the practice, the center aims to “create a transition between the natural and the man-made,” in part through the concrete plinth on which it is situated. The building’s tapered roof overhangs don’t just look good; they also serve a useful function by providing the building with shade. The center, which was completed in 2006, provides a comforting, home-like environment where locals with cancer can receive assistance and counseling.

29. U.C. Davis Student Health and Wellness Center – Davis, California

29. U.C. Davis Student Health and Wellness Center – Davis, California

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The U.C. Davis Student Health and Wellness Center doesn’t just help students keep fit and happy, it lends the environment a hand as well. The facility’s plethora of green features – which include a living growing roof, chilled beams, a rain water reservoir and a strong use of natural lighting – have even earned it prestigious LEED Gold certification. The sleek, glass-filled facility houses psychiatric, optometry and primary care departments, as well as the so-called ‘Mind Spa,’ which aims to de-stress students through its biofeedback program, massage chairs and other relaxation options. The building commenced services in 2010 and it is the work of WRNS Studio, which has offices in San Francisco and Honolulu.

28. Copenhagen Center for Cancer and Health – Copenhagen, Denmark

28. Copenhagen Center for Cancer and Health – Copenhagen, Denmark

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Nord Architects Copenhagen came up with the blueprint for the Danish capital city’s Copenhagen Center for Cancer and Health, which was completed in 2011. The center was designed as a livelier alternative to traditional, clinical hospital environments. Nord Architects Copenhagen describes the facility as “a place where you come to get better, get knowledge – and have fun.” A sense of playfulness is certainly apparent in the design, which fulfilled the brief to make a hospital more inviting by linking several house-like designs with a pointed roof reminiscent of origami. Visitors are granted access to psychologists and patient groups, while an interior courtyard provides the perfect space in which to slow down, focus on one’s breath and tune the rest of the world out.

27. John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center – Newark, Ohio

27. John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center – Newark, Ohio

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As its name suggests, the streamlined and attractive John L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center includes counseling offices and a library, which features a ‘Fireside Lounge’ to create a warm, comforting aesthetic. According to its designers, Toledo-based practice The Collaborative, the curve of the building extends an “open arms” sentiment to the rest of the campus, while the vast areas of glass in its facade provide abundant natural sunlight and the potential for passive solar energy. Opened in 2008, the facility sits on the shared campuses of Ohio State University at Newark and the Central Ohio Technical College.

26. SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center – Chicago, Illinois

26. SOS Children’s Villages Lavezzorio Community Center – Chicago, Illinois

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The construction of the Lavezzorio Community Center in Chicago was a truly collaborative effort, with generous contributions helping to shape the look of the facility. The center’s distinct stratified facade, for example, which is formed of different types of concrete cast into curly layers, acts as both an eye-catching feature and a resourceful way to incorporate donated materials. Local designers Studio Gang Architects even worked on a pro-bono basis to realize its vision for the center, which provides services for families in the area, including counseling. The two-level building, commissioned by international NGO SOS Children’s Villages, was finished in 2008 and went on to be recognized in the ‘Civic’ category of the World Architecture Festival that same year.

25. Hejmdal Counseling Center – Aarhus, Denmark

Counceling Center (Hejmdal) Danish Cancer Society, Aarhus, Denma

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The Hejmdal Counseling Center is located in Aarhus, Denmark. The facility houses the Danish Cancer Society’s first independent counseling facility. The quirky, prototypical house-like structure is the work of acclaimed, Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry, who was dubbed “the most important architect of our age” by Vanity Fair. The relatively new center, which opened its doors in 2009, was created through the refurbishment of a 1908 structure leading to Aarhus Hospital grounds, but it respectfully retains the walls of the original historic site. Two additional levels were also established, forming what has been described as “a canyon, allowing natural light from the new glass roof to reach all levels of the house.”

24. Cancer Counselling Center in Aalborg – Aarlborg, Denmark

24. Cancer Counselling Center in Aalborg – Aarlborg, Denmark

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For the new Cancer Counselling Center in Aalborg, Copenhagen architectural firm Polyform was tasked with creating “a house that invites the patient in and creates room for life.” The resulting facility, made up of a number of self-contained units, is modern looking both inside and out, and the bright airiness of the interior certainly looks more welcoming than more staid, traditional hospital environments. The facility was designed to compliment the surrounding buildings and landscape, and the finished product, according to Polyform, “at once protects and welcomes with open arms.” The center, which was created for the Danish Cancer Society, was inaugurated in 2013.

23. Northern Arizona University Health and Learning Center – Flagstaff, Arizona

23. Northern Arizona University Health and Learning Center – Flagstaff, Arizona

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The holistic health of the student body is the reason behind Northern Arizona University’s Health and Learning Center, which opened in 2011. Counseling services are just part of a multitude of options the facility offers to keep all who enter it in tip-top condition. Facilities include a climbing wall, a raised jogging track and gyms. For students who would rather not be working up a sweat, there’s even a massage option, or there’s the option to get down to some cramming in the center’s group or individual study rooms. Global architectural firm CannonDesign is behind the design of the sleek, shiny structure, which the university hopes will attain LEED Gold certification.

22. Fairfield University Jesuit Community Center – Fairfield, Connecticut

22. Fairfield University Jesuit Community Center – Fairfield, Connecticut

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Set amongst the tranquil greenery of the Fairfield University campus in Connecticut, the college’s Jesuit Community Center fits right in with its homespun, wood cabin-like appearance. Its rustic look, however, belies its cutting-edge, environmentally friendly features. These include the use of renewable and recycled materials, a geothermal cooling and heating system that eliminates nonrenewable fuel combustion, and an exterior wall system that provides insulation. The 20,000 square foot facility serves as an on-campus home for Jesuit priests and their guests and hosts counseling offices, a chapel, administrative offices and sleeping quarters. New Haven’s Gray Organschi Architecture designed the center, which was completed in 2009.

21. Bud Clark Commons – Portland, Oregon

21. Bud Clark Commons – Portland, Oregon

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With Bud Clark Commons, Portland, Oregon-based Holst Architecture has created a stunning-looking facility that really gives back to the city’s homeless community. The center offers shelter, housing and day care provisions such as job training and counseling. Its distinctive two-toned brick facade is a nod to the building’s Chinatown and Pearl District location, while its eco-friendly credentials have earned it prestigious LEED Platinum certification. The structure, which was opened in 2011, has also received approval from Residential Architect magazine, which named it ‘Project of the Year’ at its 2013 design awards. The American Institute of Architects also honored the center, awarding it a Creating Community Connection Award.

20. WEAVE Youth Family Community Centre – Sydney, Australia

20. WEAVE Youth Family Community Centre – Sydney, Australia

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Australian architectural firm collins and turner is behind the creation of this unique new facility for young people in Sydney’s Waterloo suburb. What was once “a graffiti-covered bunker” was transformed into the striking WEAVE Youth Family Community Centre, which is notable for its mesh trellis-covered geometric overhangs. These features may add a spiky, almost harsh appearance to the facility, but planned foliage climbing across the trellis and eventually infiltrating the facade altogether will give it a more natural look and help it blend in with its verdant surroundings. The building, which was completed in 2012, plays host to not-for-profit organization WEAVE (Working to Educate, Advocate and Empower), which provides youth counseling, education and health programs.

19. Livsrum Cancer Counseling Center – Zealand, Denmark

19. Livsrum Cancer Counseling Center – Zealand, Denmark

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The seven eye-catching white buildings that make up Næstved Hospital’s Livsrum Cancer Counseling Center on the Danish island of Zealand look more like quaint holiday chalets than a specialist medical facility. According to its architects, Copenhagen-based EFFEKT, the differing levels and materials of the homely structures were intended to make it stand out amongst the rest of the buildings on the hospital’s campus. The stark fiber-cement boards across the roof and outside walls give the buildings a distinctly minimalist look. Each building of the healthcare hub, which was finished in 2013, has a different purpose and private meeting rooms, a library, a gym and a store are all contained within.

18. University of Arizona Health Services Building – Tempe, Arizona

18. University of Arizona Health Services Building – Tempe, Arizona

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San Antonio firm Lake|Flato Architects was tasked with renovating the outdated University of Arizona Health Services Building on the college’s Tempe campus. The practice rose to the challenge by delivering a dynamic, inviting and thoroughly modern facility in 2012. The physical environment was an influential factor in the center’s design. To this end, the orientation and steelwork of the facility were specifically planned as a response to the bountiful natural sunlight and to compliment the surrounding palm trees respectively. The colors of the structure are also intended to echo those found in nature, and fittingly the building has achieved a LEED Platinum rating.

17. Yale University Health Services Center – New Haven, Connecticut

17. Yale University Health Services Center – New Haven, Connecticut

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Atlanta, Georgia-based company Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects took its cue from other notable buildings on the Yale University campus designing the school’s new Health Services Center. With its unmistakably curved, smooth edges, the sleek, grey-toned brick building was intended to bring to mind the prestigious Ivy League institution’s Ezra Stiles and Morse colleges and the Ingalls Rink, which were fashioned by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Sustainability was taken into account as well; the structure was designed to LEED Silver standards, but was actually awarded LEED Gold certification after its completion in 2010. The building’s facilities include a mental health and counseling department.

16. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center – Dallas, Texas

16. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center – Dallas, Texas

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Local firm CamargoCopeland Architects and San Antonio’s Overland Partners teamed up to create Dallas-based facility The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center. The facility was completed in 2008, and according to Overland Partners’ James Andrews, since it opened, “750 homeless have been placed in housing and the chronic homeless [population] has been reduced by 57 percent.” The Bridge’s transformational impact on the local population has been celebrated by the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, which awarded the center a Gold Medal in 2011 for making “good design such a valuable agent of positive change.” The LEED Silver-accredited facility offers counseling and health care services to help homeless people adapt to residing in permanent homes.

15. 42nd Street, The Space Youth Intervention Centre – Manchester, U.K.

15. 42nd Street, The Space Youth Intervention Centre – Manchester, U.K.

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Manchester, England-based charity 42nd Street has been providing support services like counseling to local youth since 1980, but it wasn’t until 2011 that it moved into its current gleaming, aluminum-clad new headquarters, The Space Youth Intervention Centre. The pair of buildings seem to reflect the contradicting needs of the 13 to 25-year-olds that the organization aims to help; through its unusual form, the structure is defiant and unique, while also providing comfort via the more traditional surrounding brick buildings. Local practice Studio Maurice Shapero was responsible for the design of the facility, which picked up the accolade of Building of the Year from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce in 2012.

14. Maggie’s Aberdeen – Aberdeen, U.K.

14. Maggie’s Aberdeen – Aberdeen, U.K.

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The oval-shaped appearance of Maggie’s Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland punctuates the Foresterhill campus of the city’s Royal Infirmary. Oslo-based architects Snøhetta and Scottish firm Halliday Fraser Munro were responsible for the eye-catching, pebble-like exterior of the building, which also features timber inside, as well as dense hand-crafted insulation. According to Maggie’s CEO Laura Lee, the center “encapsulates the Maggie’s brief in providing a space that is homely and full of warmth, whilst sparking curiosity and imagination from its visitors.” The facility was completed in 2013, and provides real world social and emotional assistance to cancer patients in the area.

13. Maggie’s Hong Kong – Hong Kong, China

13. Maggie’s Hong Kong – Hong Kong, China

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When it opened in 2013, picturesque Maggie’s Hong Kong had the distinction of becoming the first Maggie’s Centres facility located outside of Britain. Like its sister center in Dundee, Scotland, it is the work of renowned architect Frank Gehry, who aimed for the finished building to be “respectful of Chinese architecture and motifs.” A tranquil-looking pebbled pond that frames the structure serenely helps to achieve this effect. Lily Jencks, daughter of Maggie Keswick Jencks, after whom the Maggie’s Centres charity is named, designed the surrounding greenery and was inspired by the traditional Suzhou gardens close to Shanghai. The building sits on the grounds of the Tuen Mun Hospital, which is located in Hong Kong’s New Territories region.

12. Robert C. Gillett Student Commons – Ottawa, Canada

12. Robert C. Gillett Student Commons – Ottawa, Canada

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The sleek and multifaceted Robert C. Gillett Student Commons clearly impressed those in the know, as it scooped up an Award of Merit at the Ottawa Urban Design Awards in 2013. It also claimed the Canadian Design-Build Award of Excellence that same year. The stunning building at Algonquin College in Ottawa was brought to life through a partnership between international firm IBI Group and Toronto-based Teeple Architects, and was activated in 2012. The LEED Gold-accredited facility houses an auditorium with a capacity of 700 and study areas. It also offers features like career advancement and counseling services for students. The center has been described as the “heart” of Algonquin’s Woodroffe campus by the institution’s president Dr. Kent MacDonald.

11. Factoría Joven – Mérida, Spain

11. Factoria Joven – Merida, Spain

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Factoría Joven in Mérida, Spain is more than just a colorful counseling center. The quirky construction is virtually a one-stop shop for young people in the area. It boasts an open-air playground and skate park, as well as indoor counseling and opportunities to play sports, dance or just do a little web browsing. Opened in 2011, the facility was designed by Madrid-based Selgascano Studio, which took its cue from the way Chinese dragons are made. The structure is as environmentally conscious as it is visually thrilling, thanks to features such as walls that enable passive cooling and heating, materials that let in sunlight, and recycled furniture.

10. Georgia College Student Wellness and Recreation Center – Milledgeville, Georgia

10. Georgia College Student Wellness and Recreation Center – Milledgeville, Georgia

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International architects CannonDesign and Atlanta-based Menefee & Winer (now Make3) were tasked with turning a huge parking lot into a gleaming new hub where Georgia College’s student body could rest and play – and the result is pretty spectacular. The attractive Georgia College Student Wellness and Recreation Center in Milledgeville was completed in 2011, and it’s home to a multitude of facilities for sporty types, such as gymnasiums, pools and a workout center. Those who just need a little TLC, however, can take advantage of the counseling center and health clinic. The LEED Silver-designated structure has gained a supporter in Recreation Management magazine, which made it one of its 2013 Innovative Architecture & Design Awards winners.

9. Maggie’s Cheltenham – Cheltenham, U.K.

Maggie's Cheltenham. UK

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Maggie’s Cheltenham in the English borough of Gloucestershire might be a little more conventional-looking than some of its counterparts, but it’s still an exceptionally handsome facility. However, its designer Sir Richard MacCormac, founder and chairman of London-based MJP Architects, describes the structure in somewhat unorthodox terms, saying that it’s less of a building and more of “a large piece of inhabited furniture with a roof hovering above it.” The center blends history and innovation, with a refurbished Victorian lodge now surrounded at the back and sides by contemporary rustic looking wooden add-ons. The center, which opened in 2010, picked up a RIBA Award for its design the following year and was given a commendation by the Civic Trust Awards in 2012.

8. Maggie’s Nottingham – Nottingham, U.K.

8. Maggie’s Centre – Nottingham, U.K.

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London architects CZWG can take credit for the innovative look of Maggie’s Nottingham in England’s East Midlands. The center was completed in 2011 and arguably looks more like a space-age sculpture than a cancer care unit. It’s located on the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital, but it doesn’t quite touch the ground, thanks to a quasi-basement that gives it a distinct “floating” effect. The balconies of the structure extend to ensure that its rooms stretch out and practically brush up against the nearby trees. One of the area’s most famous natives, respected fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, also contributed his skills to the project, providing vibrant and playfully hued interiors and furnishings.

7. Richardson Apartments – San Francisco, California

7. Richardson Apartments – San Francisco, California

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San Francisco’s Richardson Apartments would make a handsome addition to any city. The stunning piece of architecture has certainly garnered praise from locals, with one city resident describing it as a “pleasure to see” that “never fails to put a smile on [his] face.” The stylish multi-colored, building was designed by San Francisco firm David Baker Architects to appear as if it were made up of several individual structures rather than a single large one, in order to make it look more appealing and shake up its surroundings. Completed in 2011, the building offers housing for those with financial troubles and those making the transition from living on the streets. Richardson Apartments also offers services through its community health clinic and counseling center.

6. Ubuntu Center – Port Elizabeth, South Africa

6. Ubuntu Center – Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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South Africa’s Ubuntu Center shows that good work can be done in a good-looking building. The eye-catching facility was designed by Palo Alto, California-based Field Architecture and African firm Ngonyama Okpanum & Associates to house a pediatric HIV treatment and testing facility for the children of Port Elizabeth. It also offers services such as career guidance and counseling and boasts a computer wing. The Ubuntu Center, which was completed in 2010, integrates itself with the local township through its walking paths, which flow unimpeded with the established foot traffic through the area. The facility even has a rooftop garden full of organic greens. The structure was honored with the South African Institute of Architecture’s Award of Excellence in 2012.

5. Pictou Landing First Nation Health Center – Nova Scotia, Canada

5. Pictou Landing First Nation Health Center – Nova Scotia, Canada

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The Pictou Landing First Nation Health Center, which could feasibly be mistaken for a barn, sits in the heart of a fishing community in Nova Scotia, Canada. However, this striking, wood-coated creation, which was completed in 2008, is actually a health center for the indigenous Mi’kmaq people who live in the Pictou Landing First Nation region. Natives even had a hand in making Halifax-based Piskwepaq Design’s vision a reality by pruning the local spruce trees felled from neighboring forests that were used in the building’s construction. Sustainable features such as geothermal heating and high amounts of insulation have helped the center substantially cut down on energy usage. As well as incorporating medical and counseling services, the center offers workshops on wellness and health aimed at the Aboriginal community, and plays host to community-connecting events.

4. Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health – Las Vegas, Nevada

4. Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health – Las Vegas, Nevada

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The seemingly jumbled pile of white stucco and glass blocks that make up the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas was in fact artfully designed by one of the most well-known architects of our age. Iconic Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry was responsible for the iconoclastic look of the building, as well as its Life Activity Center events venue – although Gehry himself admits that some may find the whole structure somewhat “over the top.” The center opened in 2010, and it acts as both a research clinic for diseases associated with the brain and a patient care facility where those affected and their families can receive treatment and advice, including psychological counseling.

3. Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center – East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Pocono Medical Center

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East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania’s Pocono Medical Center received a striking new addition in 2012 when the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center was opened. The design – by U.S. firm EwingCole – was inspired by the local landscape of the Pocono Mountains. For example, the vertical scattered mullion configurations on the outside of the glass facade symbolize the patterns of trees in the woodlands. The facility also has its own patch of greenery in the form of a healing garden, made up of water features, trees and rocks. The center offers services like cancer treatment, surgery and counseling, and it received AIA Philadelphia’s Honor Award in 2012.

2. Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre – London, U.K.

2. Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre – London, U.K.

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Tucked away under a pair of railway arches in London, England, the Burrell Street Sexual Health Centre wows passersby with its quirky graphic decorations, courtesy of local architects Urbansalon. The scattered shapes on its facade help distinguish the center from more traditional sterile hospital environments, while cheerful custom-made art inside the center helps patients relax. The blurred white panels towards the front of the building allow people to register and wait for their appointments safe in the knowledge that their privacy is being respected. The facility, which also includes areas for counseling, opened in 2012.

1. Boston University Center for Student Services – Boston, Massachusetts

1. Boston University Center for Student Services – Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston University’s attractive new Center for Student Services is an impressive example of a truly sustainable building. Elements such as a green roof, cooled beams that help lower the temperature of the structure, occupancy sensors, and recycled materials used in its construction all helped the center attain LEED Gold status in 2013. Reportedly, the eco-friendly facility was also fashioned to save over 24 percent more energy than a regular energy-code approved building, as well as 45 percent more water. Inside, the center houses restaurants and dining areas, a career development center, educational resources and counseling facilities. The building was the brainchild of Cambridge-based architects Bruner/Cott Architects and Planners, and it was opened to the student body in 2012.

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