Designed through a partnership between Helix and CO Architects, the 172,000-square-foot, six-story University of Kansas Medical Center Health Education Building (HEB) is at the forefront of health education and has national implications for interprofessional and interdisciplinary team learning.
As the primary teaching facility for students within the KU Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions, the building redefines health science education at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The building provides technology-enhanced environments for experiential learning, including large learning studios, active classrooms, a medical simulation center, clinical skills labs, study areas, and spaces that enhance the social and collaborative aspects of learning.
Located at the prominent intersection of 39th Street and Rainbow Boulevard, the Health Education Building was designed to be an iconic gateway to campus. The building design was inspired by key facets of the building’s purpose: connectivity, identity, a sustainable environment, and transparency.
At the heart of the building are the medical simulation and clinical skills floors. These spaces are housed within a cantilevered glass structure that becomes a beacon of light at night. Terracotta baguettes wrap these floors, creating the visual effect of a ribcage wrapping the heart within.
The project was recently featured in the July issue of Architectural Record Magazine. In the article, John Gaunt, former dean of KU’s School of Architecture, Design & Planning, who acted as a design consultant for the university shared his perspective on the design concept: “The soaring space between the transparent enclosure and the functional ‘box’ within is flooded with light, creating architectural delight without compromising a sense of institutional purpose.”
In addition to providing dedicated space for the education of their students, KUMC wanted to create a hub for student life that encouraged informal interaction among students, faculty and staff from all three schools. The 250-feet-wide walkway that connects HEB to buildings on the south side of 39th Street provides an informal social/study space at the heart of campus. Additional spaces for individual and group study are interspersed throughout the building.
The partnership between Helix and CO Architects was instrumental in the successful delivery of the project. Helix Architecture + Design was the architect of record and interior designer; CO Architects was the design architect. From the outset, we established clearly defined roles for each team member and put communication tools in place to operate seamlessly between our offices in Kansas City and Los Angeles. The project was delivered on time and achieved the client’s fast-track schedule in order to open for the Fall 2017 school year.
Ultimately the impact of the building will be felt throughout our community and the region through enhanced patient care. As the article shares, “The university’s focus on providing students with the highest-caliber learning facilities ultimately benefits a group of people unlikely ever to set foot in the new HEB: the future patients of the KU-trained doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.”
You can learn more about the Health Education Building, including a detailed list of spaces within the building, sustainability initiatives and the artists that contributed commissioned works for the building on KUMC’s website.