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Higher education has become more than just learning the skills needed to have a career. It’s where people go to gain an understanding of how life is outside of school. Through collaboration, hands-on learning and freedom, students not only are obtaining the necessary preparation for their careers, but garnering standards for life.
The health sciences hall is a 42,000-square-foot classroom and lab building for Florida SouthWestern State College’s Collier County Campus (formerly Edison State College). The primary focus of the building is training and preparation of nursing and applied sciences students. It is intended that this building not only reflect the latest technologies in nursing and applied sciences, but set the standard for advanced teaching philosophies as well. A two-story informal gathering area, in the center of the building, supports the unstructured group learning activities that have become an essential part of student life. Dedicated to environmental awareness, the complex is LEED certified.
The position of the building on the campus was crucial to organizing an entirely new northern quadrangle. From this location, the project’s form evolved responding directly to the conditions of the site. The very earliest ideas about the building arose from the notion of connecting the floors with open, light-filled areas – creating a “wow” factor. Labs and classrooms were organized and stacked around a central space, under a common roof intended to knit together all the disparate program components into an orderly construction.
The central space evolved into what became known as the “Green Wedge.” Across this space traversed irregular bridges, connecting the main circulation spine running east to west with the labs and classrooms along the building’s northern face. Offices and core building functions occupy the southern boundary of the building, culminating in the feature auditorium space. Resting on top of the auditorium is a walkable green roof, expanding the second-floor plan to become an additional outdoor classroom and gathering area, sheltered from the elements by a metal-framed trellis canopy.