Idaho Youth Ranch, Hands of Promise Campus
The Idaho Youth Ranch‘s Hands of Promise Campus began in 2015 with master planning and site design by The Land Group and which celebrated the opening of its Residential Center for Healing and Resilience in August 2023. Designated as a psychiatric residential treatment facility, the 64-bed facility will provide services to more than 100 Idaho children and teens annually with the goal of providing them with the support they need while keeping them closer to home.
Cushing Terrell, along with The Land Group and Erstad Architects, has been involved with the project since its inception, partnering on various phases of the design for the 258-acre campus. The overall campus comprises two residence halls, a wellness center, a dining and recreation hall, an education center, a welcome center for families, and an equestrian center. The buildings and services are all designed to support the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the young people who live there.
Early phases of the project included work to bring power and plumbing to the undeveloped site, as well as a water and wastewater treatment facility. One of the initial projects was a pro-bono effort to install a 100kW solar array of 300-plus panels, which produces enough power to offset 20% of the campus energy, equivalent to about 25 homes.
Following the utilities phase, one of the first buildings completed was an equestrian facility where children and families can experience Equine Assisted Therapy (EAP). Working with horses and an equine mental health specialist is a method the Idaho Youth Ranch uses to support emotional recovery and to create empathetic connections. Surrounded by fields and streams, the Equine Therapy Center comprises an arena, stables, and barns.
With the Equine Therapy Center complete, phase two of the project involved the design and construction of buildings that would support and temporarily house young people between the ages of 11 and 17. Design for the Residential Center for Healing and Resilience was another partnership of Cushing Terrell, who served as the architect for the two residence halls and provided MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) and structural engineering for all buildings, and Erstad Architects who was the architect of record for the welcome center, education and wellness buildings, and the recreation facility.
The overarching design theme for the project was inspired by the idea of a journey through natural landscapes. The experience of coming to the facility, being welcomed into the spaces, and continuing through the healing and learning journey and on to graduation was carefully considered, thinking in terms of how it would feel to bring your child to the Hands of Promise Campus as well as how it would feel to live there.
To align with the journey theme, the interior designer for the project, Samantha Boucher, worked with local artists to create murals of Idaho landscapes on the walls of the buildings. The murals depict everything from lazy, meandering trails and wildflower-filled meadows to river ravines and steep paths through mountain passes.