Honorable Mention - SCUP Excellence in Architecture for a New Building

University of Kansas

Health Education Building
University of Kansas - Health Education Building
Jury Comments
“robust integrated planning and programming strategies . . . the openness concept carries through the whole design . . . nicely designed green roof with light to the learning studios below . . . excellent project worth studying deeply”


    • Site – 2.82 acres; Building – 105,298 asf
    • The building defines the new campus gateway.
    • A variety of study environments and community life spaces enable learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
    • The program blends both traditional and new, technology-rich, flexible teaching environments that are prominently displayed within the building’s lantern-box design.
    • The HEB improves the site condition from existing surface parking lots to a 22,000-sf green courtyard and 17,000 sf of vegetated roof with access.
    • A 250-foot-long “building” bridge passes directly
      through the HEB and links to the adjoining Orr Major Building.


The goal of the Health Education Building (HEB) is to enable KUMC’s primary mission: to educate highly trained healthcare providers who will serve the entire state of Kansas, including its rural and underserved communities.
This mandate requires KUMC to increase the class sizes of its Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions. Additionally, the HEB is programmed to support better patient care by improving interprofessional training between
its schools, and foster greater integration between its educational, clinical, and research missions. The curricula for the schools of medicine, nursing, and health professions are all incorporated into the building program; schedules and space utilization studies were undertaken to optimize the quantity, type, size, and features of shared space, and the design was developed to encourage both structured and social learning. Surveys and interviews also helped inform the study habits and needs of students across all programs.

The planning and programming process for the HEB was far reaching and comprehensive. Long before design began, a comprehensive analysis of the existing space inventory across three distinct campuses was conducted. The programs for the School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Health Professions were all considered. The study included student surveys, building condition evaluations, institutional benchmarking, and room utilization scenarios. In response to interprofessional drivers, curricular changes, class-size expansion, accreditation requirements, and aging facilities, a new program for the HEB was developed.

The integrated planning and programming strategies translated directly to innovative design features. The HEB is designed to create literal and figurative connections at all scales: across the state, around the campus, between schools, curricula, the past with the present, and most importantly, between people. The building seeks to seamlessly connect to the existing campus, and it provides a much-needed thoroughfare connecting parking facilities to the north with the heart of the campus. The building itself becomes the street, encouraging people to meet in, and move through, a vibrant civic community. The building holds and frames the strategic corner, becoming the front door for the medical center. Together with existing adjoining buildings, it forms a new public square, expanding the reach and usable space for learning.

Project Team

CO Architects; Helix Archtiecture + Design