Contract - Flexi-School

design - features - education design



Flexi-School

12 October, 2009

-By Amy Milshtein, Photography by Benjamin Benschneider



After 40 years of the same old, same old you can get a little stiff. Mind you, the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW SoM) was doing fine in its confined space for the last four decades. The school, founded in 1946, has been ranked in the top 10 in Family Medicine, Rural Medicine, AIDS, Women's Health, and many more by U.S. News and World Report. It also is second in federal research funding and first for public institutions. Yet what makes those numbers really astounding is the environment in which they were generated. The teaching and student study spaces were so outmoded that they were cited by the school's accrediting agency. Enter NBBJ with a renovation that brings to the interior light, space, flexibility, and a touch of whimsy.

"We needed to inject identity into the space," recalls Brad Leathley, AIA, principal in charge, NBBJ. "The T-Wing is just a small part of the school's millions of square feet of beige corridors. We wanted to create a teaching environment that felt special, that felt like home." It also had to be contortionist-flexible. The spaces must accommodate a variety of teaching styles throughout the day, ranging from classroom to lab to exam room, all scalable from six to 40 students—and all of it on the fly. "The configuration changes hour by hour," explains Hogie Fritsch, lead designer, NBBJ. "We wanted to make it easy for teachers and students to quickly divide the classroom as needed."

Movable wall panels prove a given, but instead of hiding them behind alcoves the designers emphasized the rooms' flexibility by showing them off. Curtains hang from ceiling clouds that, when drawn, allow a public classroom to become a private examination room. Tables are sturdy enough for students to sit on them for physical exams yet light enough to move around. Walls do double and triple duty as each of them is either tackable or a white board. "We made use of every surface given to us," Fritsch continues.

They also brought some much-needed daylight into the classroom. "A very difficult thing to do because all of the shafts for the building are on the exterior," says Jill Morelli, University of Washington School of Medicine director of facilities. The designers utilized translucent glass on the classroom walls to maintain some privacy yet still allow sunshine to penetrate.

The morphable classrooms accommodate the different teaching styles and needs throughout the day, but the new lounge supports the busy student during that same time period. Airy, light-filled, and comfortable, the lounge increases the student study space by 67 percent, according to Morelli. Its clean lines, neutral colors, and soft furnishings remain ironically reminiscent of a doctor's waiting room, sans the old magazines, of course.

For a different lounge experience, students may want to try one of the mouse holes found in the halls. The team at NBBJ created these study nooks out of practically nothing, carving them from the breather walls that house the plumbing for the upper floors. "It's an example of how we squeezed every last inch of space from the existing structure," says Leathley. The quiet, two-person booths remain functional, whimsical, and highly visible. "You can see them on the Burke-Gilman trail across the road," says Morelli. Carving out the holes challenged the team at NBBJ. With all of the pipes and wires running through them, the designers had to perform some complicated forensics work to find a safe place to cut.

In keeping with Washington's reputation as The Evergreen State, NBBJ enlivened the mouse hole walls with a representation of a familiar green icon: the underside of a fern. "It's a recognizable image to anyone living in the Pacific Northwest," says Leathley. Other whimsical touches can be found in the space, such as the old-school X-Ray machines that display images of flowers.

The remodel remains popular with the first- and second-year medical students, who are the primary users of the space. It has also caught on with other students on the space-starved campus. "The lounge is always crowded," says Fritsch. "In fact, we've heard third hand that the dentistry students are coming over to use the mouse holes."

Perhaps they need some cavities of their own?


who
Project: University of Washington School of Medicine, Health Science Complex 5th Floor T-Wing, Teaching Space Renovation. Client: University of Washington, School of Medicine. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: NBBJ. Structural engineer: Seattle Structural. Mechanical/electrical Engineer: Xnth. General contractor: CDK. A/V Communications: AEI. Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider.

what
Wallcoverings: Egan Visual, Image Mill. Paint: Kelly Moore, Benjamin Moore. Laminate: Formica. Wood: Brookside Veneers. Flooring: Marmoleum. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface. Carpet fiber: Natural. Carpet backing: rubber. Ceiling: USG Gypsum board clouds.
Lighting: Kurt Versen, Lightolier, Focal Point, Alcko, iLight Technologies. Doors: Adams Rite, Blumcraft. Door hardware: Adams Rite. Glass: Bendheim. Window treatments: Cubicle Curtains: Kvadrat, Maharam. Lounge seating:_Keilhauer, Brayton International, Harter, Aller Muir. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Harter. Cafeteria, dining, training tables:_Brayton International. Seating upholstery: HBF, Architex, Arc-Com, Spinneybeck. Library and classroom seating: KI. Library and classroom tables: Allsteel. Signage: NBBJ.

where
Location: Seattle, WA. Total floor area: 12,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 1. Student capacity: maximum of 320. Cost/sq. ft.: $235.



Flexi-School

12 October, 2009


Benjamin Benschneider

After 40 years of the same old, same old you can get a little stiff. Mind you, the University of Washington School of Medicine (UW SoM) was doing fine in its confined space for the last four decades. The school, founded in 1946, has been ranked in the top 10 in Family Medicine, Rural Medicine, AIDS, Women's Health, and many more by U.S. News and World Report. It also is second in federal research funding and first for public institutions. Yet what makes those numbers really astounding is the environment in which they were generated. The teaching and student study spaces were so outmoded that they were cited by the school's accrediting agency. Enter NBBJ with a renovation that brings to the interior light, space, flexibility, and a touch of whimsy.

"We needed to inject identity into the space," recalls Brad Leathley, AIA, principal in charge, NBBJ. "The T-Wing is just a small part of the school's millions of square feet of beige corridors. We wanted to create a teaching environment that felt special, that felt like home." It also had to be contortionist-flexible. The spaces must accommodate a variety of teaching styles throughout the day, ranging from classroom to lab to exam room, all scalable from six to 40 students—and all of it on the fly. "The configuration changes hour by hour," explains Hogie Fritsch, lead designer, NBBJ. "We wanted to make it easy for teachers and students to quickly divide the classroom as needed."

Movable wall panels prove a given, but instead of hiding them behind alcoves the designers emphasized the rooms' flexibility by showing them off. Curtains hang from ceiling clouds that, when drawn, allow a public classroom to become a private examination room. Tables are sturdy enough for students to sit on them for physical exams yet light enough to move around. Walls do double and triple duty as each of them is either tackable or a white board. "We made use of every surface given to us," Fritsch continues.

They also brought some much-needed daylight into the classroom. "A very difficult thing to do because all of the shafts for the building are on the exterior," says Jill Morelli, University of Washington School of Medicine director of facilities. The designers utilized translucent glass on the classroom walls to maintain some privacy yet still allow sunshine to penetrate.

The morphable classrooms accommodate the different teaching styles and needs throughout the day, but the new lounge supports the busy student during that same time period. Airy, light-filled, and comfortable, the lounge increases the student study space by 67 percent, according to Morelli. Its clean lines, neutral colors, and soft furnishings remain ironically reminiscent of a doctor's waiting room, sans the old magazines, of course.

For a different lounge experience, students may want to try one of the mouse holes found in the halls. The team at NBBJ created these study nooks out of practically nothing, carving them from the breather walls that house the plumbing for the upper floors. "It's an example of how we squeezed every last inch of space from the existing structure," says Leathley. The quiet, two-person booths remain functional, whimsical, and highly visible. "You can see them on the Burke-Gilman trail across the road," says Morelli. Carving out the holes challenged the team at NBBJ. With all of the pipes and wires running through them, the designers had to perform some complicated forensics work to find a safe place to cut.

In keeping with Washington's reputation as The Evergreen State, NBBJ enlivened the mouse hole walls with a representation of a familiar green icon: the underside of a fern. "It's a recognizable image to anyone living in the Pacific Northwest," says Leathley. Other whimsical touches can be found in the space, such as the old-school X-Ray machines that display images of flowers.

The remodel remains popular with the first- and second-year medical students, who are the primary users of the space. It has also caught on with other students on the space-starved campus. "The lounge is always crowded," says Fritsch. "In fact, we've heard third hand that the dentistry students are coming over to use the mouse holes."

Perhaps they need some cavities of their own?


who
Project: University of Washington School of Medicine, Health Science Complex 5th Floor T-Wing, Teaching Space Renovation. Client: University of Washington, School of Medicine. Architect, interior designer, lighting designer: NBBJ. Structural engineer: Seattle Structural. Mechanical/electrical Engineer: Xnth. General contractor: CDK. A/V Communications: AEI. Photographer: Benjamin Benschneider.

what
Wallcoverings: Egan Visual, Image Mill. Paint: Kelly Moore, Benjamin Moore. Laminate: Formica. Wood: Brookside Veneers. Flooring: Marmoleum. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface. Carpet fiber: Natural. Carpet backing: rubber. Ceiling: USG Gypsum board clouds.
Lighting: Kurt Versen, Lightolier, Focal Point, Alcko, iLight Technologies. Doors: Adams Rite, Blumcraft. Door hardware: Adams Rite. Glass: Bendheim. Window treatments: Cubicle Curtains: Kvadrat, Maharam. Lounge seating:_Keilhauer, Brayton International, Harter, Aller Muir. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: Harter. Cafeteria, dining, training tables:_Brayton International. Seating upholstery: HBF, Architex, Arc-Com, Spinneybeck. Library and classroom seating: KI. Library and classroom tables: Allsteel. Signage: NBBJ.

where
Location: Seattle, WA. Total floor area: 12,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 1. Student capacity: maximum of 320. Cost/sq. ft.: $235.
 


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