Text description provided by the architects. WCU’s Health and Human Sciences building is the first facility constructed as a part of the University’s Millennial Initiative, setting both aesthetic and planning directions for the new 344-acre campus. The facility provides state-of-the-art learning environments for five departments and nine disciplines within the College. Nested into the mountainside, without immediate built context or relationship to the existing campus, the design is a direct response to both site and program.
The location and form of the building is defined by the site topography and solar orientation. Mapping the topography and slopes defined buildable area limits that informed the project location and delineated its northernmost extents. The southern boundary is defined by a natural basin, allowing for minimal impact of the building on the site and optimal solar orientation. The building nests between these elements, stepping back into the topography and conforming to the site. An expansive roof garden replicates the form of the natural basin carved into the building footprint, restoring the natural environment and reinforcing the connection to the site.
The programmatic goal of inter-departmental collaboration drives the organization of the building in plan and section utilizing the ”Collaborative Center”, a multi-story atrium and technology resource center which connects all levels visually and functionally. This unifying element promotes interaction and engagement throughout the building. The juxtaposition of disciplines facilitates an exchange of ideas supporting research and development and a more comprehensive student education. Building technologies work in conjunction to reinforce opportunities for cross-pollination between departments.
Natural light is shared throughout the building, introduced through an expanse of south-facing atrium curtain wall and distributed to inner offices, corridors and small gathering areas through interior glazing. Sunscreens provide greater thermal comfort by limiting direct solar exposure while providing desirable natural daylight to accommodate lighting needs.