Aggies unveil designs for new campus

November 22, 2008

(COLLEGE STATION, TX) – Students in an Architecture-for-Health design studio at Texas A&M University unveiled their conceptual drawings and models for a new building on the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s new Bryan campus that house HSC administrative offices, as well as classrooms and meeting spaces.

The public presentation was Nov. 21 at the John B. Connally Building in College Station.

The students were asked to provide designs for a building to house the HSC central administration facilities, its academic and outreach centers, and a 650-seat auditorium. Additionally, the student designs include a banquet hall, an executive dining area, a lecture hall seating up to 125 people, classrooms, seminar rooms, conference rooms and parking for at least 400 cars.

The building will be named in honor of George and Barbara Bush, said Alicia Dorsey, Ph.D., HSC vice president for communication and program development.

More than a collection of rooms, health science center officials asked the students for a building that would encourage interdisciplinary collaborations and innovations in education, while providing opportunities for community engagement within an academic environment.

These tall orders came from Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., Texas A&M Health Science Center President and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for The Texas A&M University System, who worked closely with students as they developed their design concepts for the project.

Prior to preparing their designs, the students researched comparable health science center facilities across the country. As their concepts emerged, the students benefited from weekly reviews by leaders in the health care design profession who were featured in a semester-long lecture series sponsored by the Center for Health Systems & Design at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.

“All of the projects stress the integration of nature and landscape architecture with the building designs,” said George J. Mann, AIA, The Skaggs-Sprague Endowed Chair of Health Facilities Design and leader of the design studio.

The administration building is the second HSC project that Mann’s studio has tackled. In 2006, Dr. Dickey invited Aggie health care architecture students to develop master plan concepts for the Health Science Center’s new 200-acre Bryan campus, including designs for a health professions education building and a medical education and research building.

The Nov. 21 unveiling featured the conceptual work of four student teams from Mann’s studio, which was co-directed by Joseph J. McGraw, architecture professor emeritus, and Kazu Okamoto, an assistant professor from the University of Tokyo who is a Kajima Corporation Visiting Scholar.

“The students worked long hours with enthusiasm and purpose to provide a
signature building for the Texas A&M Health Science Center, one that will serve the entire health community, here and abroad,” said McGraw.

Brandon Johnson, an architecture student from Spring, Texas, said his team’s approach to the administration building design was developed after speaking with the client and researching the latest medical simulation technology.

“Our consensus,” he said, “was that an innovative educational facility should incorporate the concepts of portability, technology and human interaction.” To achieve this, Johnson and fellow designers Jose Hilario Jr. of Laredo and Akaya Ono of Kyoto, Japan, created a building featuring open spaces with few fixed walls. The flexible design, said Johnson, facilitates changing demands for the utilization of space, as well as mobility through the prescribed use of portable equipment, technology, millwork and cabinetry.

The facility was designed, he said, as an interactive hub that connects physically with other proposed health science center buildings. To enhance the structure’s sustainability, the designers incorporated solar panels, natural ventilation, a water collection system and a green roof with study areas.

There are also a number of “green” elements in the building concept developed by Kathryn Hitt of Beaumont and Dylan Stewart of Boerne. The team employs skylights and clerestories, solar panels, colonnades and overhangs, and a physical orientation that minimizes exposure to the sun.

“The experience of collaborating with innovative clients like the Health Science Center, as well as our classmates and esteemed faculty, was an incredible growing, learning and maturation process,” said Stewart. “Having the opportunity to design a building that will have a worldwide impact as well as an immense impact on the community that we have grown to love during our college years is incredibly gratifying.”

The building design created by Evan Edwards of Willis and Rohan Shirodkar of Mumbai, India, included roofing integrated with solar panels, small commercial wind generators, green walls, energy efficient office elements and natural lighting. They also introduced water features in their design that functions a spatial separator and provides a link between the building and nature.

Edwards noted that ultimate design for this central health science center campus building is sure to “become an iconic image for years to come.”

“This project has been quite an undertaking,” said Anthony Legamaro of Corpus Christi, who created a design with Jason Drews of Houston. “There are many different aspects of this building that needed consideration, so it’s definitely been challenging, but it’s also been a lot of fun to work on. We feel like we were successful in making our vision for this building come alive.”

Since it began in 1966, Architecture-for-Health studios at Texas A&M’s Department of Architecture have tackled more than 500 national and international design projects.

— Marketing & Communications