VCU’s new James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center was designed by the internationally-acclaimed architectural firm, Pei-Cobb-Freed & Partners, in collaboration with Philadelphia's Ballinger Architects. The new academic and research facility for the School of Medicine adds 200,000 square feet of clinical simulation, learning labs, classrooms, and research laboratories as well as student activity and administrative office space. This collaborative space is home to a transformed curriculum, setting a new standard in medical education.
KSA Interiors was brought on-board by VCU Facilities Management Department / Planning and Design Division for the selection and design of the furniture. KSA’s vision was to continue the architects’ blend of contemporary and sensible design concept into the furniture selection and design.
The building’s flexible learning environments are a vital element in the medical school’s innovative curriculum redesign and an integral driver of the furnishings’ design concept. Fittingly-named Student Interaction Areas, located at most floor lobby areas are ‘mini-commons’ areas designed to complement post-classroom learning and collaboration between students and faculty. Our design team used a variety of seating and standing-height collaborative dividers to accommodate a diversity of posture types and uses to support this environment. Classroom furnishings also support a challenging combination of flexibility and permanent technology. Acute audio-visual coordination was required to manage the use of flip-top tables and unique technology units for maximum technological effectiveness.
Image Courtesy of www.medschool.vcu.edu
A conserved 70-year-old mural, depicting images of staff physicians, nurses, patients, and medical equipment of both the 19th Century and 1930s and 1940s, is the focal point of the main-level Student Forum. In order to foster the design concept of sophistication, modern classic furniture was aptly placed near the mural and provides a stunning complement of rich red and neutral colors, enhancing the beauty of the mural. The historic mural was originally intended to expose medical students in the mid twentieth century to the cultural ideas and pursuits beyond medicine and to provide a glimpse into the history of the institution which opened its doors almost 100 years earlier in 1838. The interior designers’ placement of the modern classics provides a rich balance to the historical element of this mural while also tipping its hat to the contemporary features of the building’s architecture through chrome elements and sleek upholstery.
The design concepts of collaboration and sophistication are also evident in the upper-floor open office faculty and private administrative offices. A mix of warm wood finishes in the private areas paired with sleek, but inviting, low-height workstations, provide the interaction and sense of professionalism desired by both the school’s leadership and staff. The design team achieves these goals all the while ensuring that the interior environment aligns with the project's sustainability and LEED directives through the use of appropriate furnishings and interior materials, as well as through utilization of daylighting concepts.
Completed in the Spring of 2013, this new medical school building is a state-of-the-art, LEED Silver facility enabling increased class sizes and a transformative approach to medical education.
Photography Copyright (c) Eric Taylor Photography