SIUE looks forward to future Health Sciences Building

Architects and designers working on SIUE’s new health sciences building hope to limit its carbon footprint and give students in the healthcare programs a head start in real-world applications.

On Jan. 14, the Illinois Capital Development Board announced they had selected architectural design firm HOK-St. Louis to move forward on the new Health Sciences Building project. The project was estimated at approximately $105 million in the 2019 Capitol Bill as part of Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois plan.

Craig Holan, director of Facilities Management, said HOK will assist the design of this building by creating a bridging document. The bridging document identifies the school’s needs and vision for the building, how they might be met and a cost estimate but leaves the creativity up to the builders. They will also consider the facility’s placement and how it will integrate with the buildings next to the proposed site near Research Drive.

“One of the reasons why they were selected is that the campus was originally designed by [Gyo] Obata, the ‘O’, in HOK. In their presentation, they talked about the campus design and presented concepts for how this might fit into not just the original design, but a potential working off of that design for the future. So, they had a more holistic approach, I think,” Holan said.

Chancellor Randy Pembrook said SIUE is committed to being a good environmental steward by committing to being LEED certified.

“The concept of LEED certification, that is a commitment that SIUE has made to itself to our community, that every new building that we build from now on will be at minimum LEED Silver certified,” Pembrook said. 

The new building will be required to meet a LEED Silver certification requirement, ensuring that energy conservation goes into the new facility’s planning. Projects can accumulate points for meeting guidelines set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council.

According to the USGBC, this process includes requirements such as efficient energy and water use, ecological impact into the existing area and the materials used in the project.

Illinois passed the Green Building Act in July, 2009 which requires all state-funded construction to achieve LEED Silver. Under the Compiled Illinois Statutes this also includes renovations to existing structures. 

Holan said that HOK will ensure the bridging document includes ways the builders can meet these goals. They will also include future considerations for designing the building to meet the growing needs of the SIUE medical programs and how they will serve the surrounding area.

“And so the things that we’re trying to balance at this point are, what programs, what labs, what classrooms will be in the health science building, which we’re imagining 200,000 to 220,000 square feet, which would make it the largest building on campus, “ Pembrook said.

Currently Pembrook said the construction of this building has led to discussions about renovating Alumni Hall where the School of Nursing is currently located.

“But then what are the things that maybe won’t fit into that building that we need to be thinking about regarding Alumni Hall and renovating Alumni? So that’s an exciting conversation we’re planning; where do we want our clinics to go to be able to serve the community and have efficient access to those if you’re driving in from Edwardsville or somewhere in Madison County?” Pembrook said.

Holan said considerations are being made for the new building while continuing other green projects to lessen SIUE’s carbon footprint.

“This is a large building; however, we’re sitting on 2,600 acres here, and we have [an] extremely low footprint relative to our wildlife area,“ Holan said. “Now, as far as the building’s concerned, there will be consideration for a green roof, we’ll look at what the runoff is, the storm runoff onto our adjacent parking areas. There could be stormwater management options that might include bioswales or permeable pavers; all those will be considered and all those tend to have a positive impact on our wildlife.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, bioswales are usually vegetation planted in areas to act as stormwater management. The vegetation allows the water to drain into the ground and helps filter toxins that could otherwise pollute waterways in traditional stormwater runoff systems. Permeable pavers allow the stormwater to filter through minimizing flooding.

Holan said several buildings on campus have achieved LEED Silver including the Engineering Building addition and Science Building West. The Art and Design West building has achieved LEED Gold.

“The thing that I get excited about when we talk about the building, and the people that we imagine being in the building, is that health care has moved to what they call a teams approach,” Pembrook said. “So hopefully, the doctors are talking to the nurses who are talking to the pharmacists who are talking to the physical therapists. And so you come up with a plan for the patient that involves all aspects.”

In its press release, the CDB stated that the new building would increase the student capacity and the simulation labs’ size for the School of Nursing.

“Our goal is for the new space to more than double what we have. Our program has grown a bunch. We do so many simulations that we need so many more of these types of spaces. We need to make them more realistic,” said Amy Reed, coordinator for the SON simulation lab. “We want rooms that we can adjust what’s in the room to a particular scenario. We envision creative spaces that can be readjusted based on the situational needs. It is more green to design spaces that can be used to meet multiple needs.”

Pembrook said that they went into the construction process with HOK knowing that there has been dramatic growth in nursing and pharmacy and they want to make sure that they will have the facilities that they need.

Both Pembrook and Reed agree that the future SON simulation lab will be an important part of student education.

“I think that’s an important part of the conversation that students not only will get a great education in their area, whether that’s pharmacy or nursing or whatever it might be, but then they will also have a chance to work in simulation labs, that they’ll be able to work with students from other disciplines so that they practice that team approach even before they graduate from SIUE and get into the health world,” Pembrook said.

Reed said she believes in that team approach as well.

“We would like to work with our pharmacy and other partners to do some interprofessional work where students from different practices would be working together. They can learn that experience of collaborating with others in healthcare,“ Reed said.

Pembrook hopes the building could be ready to use by the end of 2023.

“I think we’ll get the design done in … 2021 and then hopefully, depending on funding, it’s about a two year process to build the building,” Pembrook said. “So if we had funding come through, then calendar [year] ‘22-’23 would be the construction period and hopefully we would be in then near the end of ‘23 or maybe more likely in [the building] at some point in calendar ‘24.”

In January 2020, the state released approximately $10 million in funds to begin the project’s initial design phase. The CDB is responsible for overseeing that state-funded projects meet the state of Illinois standards, including environmental impact consideration.

For more information on the Green Building Act go to and reference act ILCS 3130 and for more information on sustainability initiatives on campus check out Sustainability Action Group.

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