Health Sciences Services

September 8, 2023

UW Health Sciences Education Building Wins National Award

The UW’s Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB) was recognized with a National Award of Merit in the Educational Facilities category by the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) on Aug. 15.

The HSEB is located on the western side of the Health Sciences complex on South Campus, across NE Pacific St. from the Life Sciences Building. It is an interdisciplinary space for students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health and social work, with classrooms, a student lounge, library, labs and more. Opened in September 2022, the HSEB “kicks off the redevelopment of South Campus,” explains Bradly Gunn, an architect with Miller Hull, the firm that designed the project. It is the first structure built under the 2019 Campus Master Plan, which adds 6 million square feet of new construction over the next 10 years, much of it in UW’s South and West Campuses.

The DBIA’s National Award of Merit recognizes top projects built using the design-build model, where designer and contractor work together under one contract and collaborate from the outset of a project. The DBIA is a national industry organization of design-build practitioners. The DBIA praised the HSEB for showcasing “innovative approaches to education, sustainability and construction,” including the use of cross-laminated timber, a first-of-its-kind composite of steel framing and mass timber, and innovative systems for stormwater management. The announcement also highlights the diverse range of environments included in the construction, including outdoor spaces and indoor spaces, incorporating natural materials and soothing colors.

The construction and the design of the building marks a step forward in ways beyond just technical criteria. The design-build team created standards for all-gender bathrooms, which can be used for future UW construction, and exceeded targets for business equity. Separately, HSEB is pursuing certification as LEED Gold, a benchmark of green construction, and scores high marks for other areas of technical performance such as airtightness, which saves energy.

Thanks to strategic management of risk and contingency and productivity savings, the project also came in under budget. Funds totaling $4.1 million, or 5.2% of the project budget, were able to be invested back into project improvements.

Working together

The savings are a testament to the high level of collaboration between team members, said Duncan Howard, the team’s project manager, who is part of Lease Cutcher Lewis. Along with stakeholders across the UW, the team included the architecture firm Miller Hull, the design-build firm Lease Crucher Lewis, the laboratory architecture firm S/L/A/M Collaborative and a dozen other partners and vendors.

It’s also a testament to the design-build model, which enables mitigation of risk earlier in the project and “rewards behavior that gets to greater value for the University,” said Jeannie Natta, a construction project manager with UW Facilities, (in traditional construction, designers and contractors work separately). “It’s really nice to get up every day and chase a carrot as opposed to be dodging a stick all day long,” she said.

The design-build team saw parallels in their work with the building’s function, Howard said. The building brings together departments and disciplines that have similar goals but whose teachers, students and practitioners don’t typically work together.

Both the HSEB, and the process for creating it, foster an environment for doing things differently. “We have a team with a lot of experts in different fields coming together and recognizing that the best outcomes are going to happen when we work together and we all have insight and visibility and input into the outcome,” says Howard. “We had a process that created a safe space for all team members to contribute to have their voices heard … We were able to view everything through the lens of what’s going to best serve the project and the University.”

With this recognition, the HSEB is eligible for the DBIA’s National Award of Excellence, which will be awarded at its national conference Nov. 1 through 3. The project has also been nominated for Best in Teaming and Best in Process. You can read more about the HSEB here