design thinkers
higher education
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Emory University, School of Medicine

Medical Education Building

the backstory

The Medical Education Building includes a complete renovation of two, four-level historic wings and replacement of an outdated 1970’s-era connector building. The new 5-level construction encompasses 110,000 SF, and the two-building renovation totals 50,000 SF. The building is designed to accommodate a revamped curriculum that fully integrates basic and clinical sciences and new teaching modalities/technologies and that recognizes the emerging importance of translational research, cross-mission building, and inter-professional partnerships. Major elements of the program include three 160-seat lecture halls as well as seminar rooms and instructional spaces for interactive small-group sessions; clinical skills and standardized patient areas; anatomy labs; dissection labs; a morgue; simulation (ER & OR) labs; student services and amenities areas; and the medical school administration offices, including the Dean’s suite. The instructional spaces in the building are designed to respond to constantly evolving pedagogy that is driven by evolving knowledge and technology.

at-a-glance

TYPE:
Renovation and Addition
PRACTICE:
Architecture
Interior Design
Lab / Sim Planning
Landscape Architecture
Programming & Planning
LOCATION:
Atlanta, GA
STATUS:
Completed 2007
SIZE:
110,000 SF – New; 50,000 SF – Renovation
INSIGHT

Emory University’s School of Medicine had an aggressive plan to become a top medical school and tasked SLAM with creating a state-of-the-art medical education building to support that goal.

SOLUTION
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The highly regarded Emory University School of Medicine was housed in a matched pair of small historic original School of Medicine buildings and a ‘70’s era connector building. The structures were inadequate for the School’s current academic program, provided no informal study or interaction space for students and faculty, and could not accommodate the curriculum and pedagogical changes necessary to address the evolving changes in medical science and clinical practice. 

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The charge to the Design Team was to retain, restore and re-purpose the two historic buildings; to demolish the connector building and replace it with a new, architecturally appropriate structure that would provide the balance of the space required by the 160,000 SF total program; and, in addition: Create an image appropriate to the reputation of the School and its program; Develop a design solution which was architecturally appropriate to the importance of the site and the design guidelines of Emory’s campus plan; Accommodate a totally new curriculum and pedagogy for an expanded class of 150; Incorporate state-of-the-art instructional and medical technologies; Provide a broad range of informal study and activity space for students that would allow the facility to be a figurative HOME for them.

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The three building composition occupies a visually prominent and historically important site at the nexus of multiple pedestrian paths. To the south is the university hospital, to the east is a regional Children’s hospital, and to the west is the main quadrangle, home to a large majority of the undergraduate programs. The complex also defines the southern terminus of the health sciences corridor that links various allied health programs, research facilities and the school of public health.

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The design of the School of Medicine responds to these circulation patterns by creating strong linkage and connectivity between these various paths. In addition multiple entrances were provided to accommodate access including a ceremonial entry situated on a new courtyard that provides outdoor study space as well as a welcome reprieve from the near-urban surroundings.

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The programming / planning / design process actively sought and included input from all of the project’s stakeholders: students, faculty, School and University administration, and campus services. It drew upon internal and outside resources for instructional and medical technology, clinical simulation, and restoration technology.

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The School of Medicine is inspired by central focus and passion of those who come to learn and educate in the building: the human body. Flow of connection flows naturally down the main corridor and supplies connections to the rest of the floor. One feels the lecture halls ‘breathe’ as movement of air through diffusers subtly cathes the senses of those passing by. ‘Ribs’ extend from the wall to give support and rigidity to walkway above the main lobby.

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The two original 1917 School of Medicine buildings were designed by Henry Hornbostel who designed the original campus plan. The University’s Design Guidelines encouraged design that is referential to its character-defining historic buildings.

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The scale and materials palette of the Anatomy and Physiology buildings, whose entire envelope were restored, are clad in an ashlar of local gray-white and pink marbles uniquely characteristic of Emory University. The design team worked closely with the campus architect to locate compatible materials for the new construction including marble cladding from the original quarry. The same combination of gray-white and pink marbles also clad the new building addition whose massing and proportions give it the gravitas and character of the original buildings The new construction respectfully complements them with a response appropriate to its time.

IMPACT

In the 150-year history of Emory’s School of Medicine, there had never been a consolidated facility designed specifically for the needs of medical education. The realization of this project has allowed the university to maintain its flagship program in the heart of its campus.

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American Society of Landscape Architects
Merit Award Winner

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AIA Connecticut Citation for Design
Award Winner

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Ranked in Top 25
2020 – US News and World Report 

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