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Carving out a unique identity within a competitive global environment is a challenge for many students and institutions. This challenge was the primary impetus for the creation of the ECU Health Sciences Campus (HSC) Student Union: to create a space that manifests the values, ideals, and aspirations of both Health Sciences students and the various schools which needed a unifying identity. The HSC Student Union’s beacon is at the epicenter of ECU’s transformative HSC and has become a place where interdisciplinary discussions can foster big ideas.
MHAworks led a design team which also featured Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, Stroud Pence Structural Engineers (now Lynch Mykins), RDK Engineers, now NV5, for Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical, and Stewart for Civil Engineering and Landscape Architecture. This $27.6 million, 79,000 square foot facility provides budding health sciences professionals with a variety of collaborative environments and the type of atmosphere needed to help recruit the next generation of leaders. The facility’s programming includes formal meeting spaces, recreation spaces, a catering kitchen/space, a food court with coffee shop, a convenience store, a computer repair shop, administrative offices, a health clinic, and myriad collaborative studying, gathering, and informal learning spaces. The building is currently in the process of being LEED certified.
One of the more interesting aspects of the design is the promotion of active design principles. The design team worked to make the entire building as open as possible, with all stairs being situated to be more convenient and experientially rewarding than riding the elevator. The three-story glass beacon will one day be the center point of a future campus quadrangle. A stainless steel slide connects the third level of the beacon to the second level.
Long time veterans of ECU’s facilities services acknowledged that they had not been part of a smoother process during their tenure at ECU.