Western Carolina University, Health & Human Sciences

Cullowhee, North Carolina

  • FIRM

    Clark Nexsen, PC


    Western Carolina University

  • AREA

    38,000 sq.ft.





WCU's Health and Human Science Building is a 160,000-square-foot facility providing state-of-the-art learning environments for departments 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 the site and the program. The location and form of the building is ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$206.00FEATURED IN2014 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas by the site topography and solar orientation. 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. An expansive roof garden extends the communal gathering space outdoors, reinforcing the building’s connection to the natural environment and to the site.

Natural light is shared throughout the building, introduced through a 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.