San Antonio College, Nail Technical Center, Mortuary Science Department

San Antonio, Texas

  • FIRM

    O’Connell Robertson


    Alamo Colleges

  • AREA

    87,231 sq.ft.





The renovation of the San Antonio College Nail Technical Center included expansion of the Mortuary Science Department, a unique program that teaches students the technical, personal and business skills needed to work in the funeral industry. Department leaders especially wanted to provide a lab where students could perform embalming on campus rather than ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$81.00CITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2011 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYVocational/Industrial arts to go to local funeral homes to fulfill the program requirement. The department also wanted to apply for a funeral home license, which would enable them to bring in additional revenue and recognition to the college.

The architect collaborated with state regulatory agencies to ensure the renovation met all licensing requirements. Provisions included being able to close off corridors to limit sight and access when transferring bodies; designing ventilation to disperse fumes across the body during an embalming; and using finishes on floors and walls that are easy to clean and reduce the potential of transferring body fluids to other areas.

The project also added an observation room overlooking the embalming lab through which students can interact; updated the merchandising room where students practice assisting families with funeral preparations; and incorporated special lighting in the restorative arts lab, where students learn how to prepare a body cosmetically.

"Appropriately subdued color palette for the function. The portico is well-proportioned, and achieves a sense of entry and dignity. Well-integrated technology. Good separation of ‘body traffic’ to ‘public/student circulation.’ Maintainability is integrated into the design."--2011 jury