An artist rendering shows what the Allied Health and Science Building will look like once completed in August 2014. (Special Photo)
The first class of 32 nursing students at Georgia Gwinnett College will start classes in August in the $30 million Allied Health and Science building that school officials have called a teaching machine with picturesque views of the heart of campus.
The three-story, 91,000-square-foot structure will provide a variety of facilities for the college, including three physics laboratories, six biology labs, seven chemistry labs, four anatomy and physiology labs and one lab each for psychology, exercise science, IT systems and digital media.
While the building will serve all students on campus, it will primarily be used by students in the schools of Science and Technology and Health Sciences.
The space and additional disciplines offered allows GGC to grow from nearly 10,000 students, where it stands today, to 11,000 students. Without the building, GGC’s growth would have been restricted due to lack of space.
It will have three classrooms, eight student study or commons areas, 36 faculty offices and two dean office suites.
At a groundbreaking ceremony last year, Thomas Mundie, dean of the School of Science and Technology, said the number of science, technology, engineering and math majors at GGC is growing at a rate of 30 percent, which is eight percent higher than the college’s overall enrollment growth, from 2011 to 2012.
While GGC’s ‘A’ building is diverse in its disciplines, the Allied Health and Science building gives the school, “our best opportunity to combine a variety of labs on campus,” Rex M. Kizzort, GGC’s director of campus planning, design and construction, said during a recent hard hat tour.
Among the design priorities for the building were spaces for students to study between class time, and open faculty suites to encourage discussion and collaboration between disciplines. Several benches and tables will be in the office areas with rolling marker boards. The design of the building put a priority on using natural light, and faculty office space is designed to let light migrate through the building.
“One of the things GGC does well is mixes faculty so we don’t create silos of offices together,” Kizzort said. “All chemistry and physics are not necessarily together. The goal is to get a good interdisciplinary connection between all programs on campus.”
The building also features “chandelier lighting” and lighting on walls that looks to be reflecting through a window pane.
Also during construction, Kizzort said they changed the lighting system from an expensive fluorescent light to an LED light to save money and improve energy costs. Throughout the hallways and rooms, the light should be a close mix to daylight lighting.
The building will house the highly competitive nursing program, which last year received approval from the Georgia Board of Nursing following accreditation and curriculum approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The first floor will feature labs for physics, technology, exercise science and napex, which is a combination of neuro-physiology, anatomy, physiology and exercise science.
The second floor will have the nursing program, which will also have an induction ceremony in August.
The third floor, which has the unique views of campus and popular corner office space, will house chemistry labs.
Once the building is completed, the institution can move forward with plans for growth in the two schools the building primarily serves.
The building offers several examples of state-of-the-art classroom setup that is on par with modern education buildings across the country, Kizzort said.
In the nursing program, for example, students will work in groups of four at a table that features a display screen to share their work around the room, or on the 80-inch display at the front of the room.
“It gives them the ability to see it up close, so they don’t have to worry about where they’re seated in the room, they can see the instructor up close or what another student is talking about,” Kizzort said.
The nursing area is designed to simulate a nursing suite at a hospital. It will have a central control room equipped with wireless technology for managing patient bed simulations, and a 14-bed patient care clinical practice lab.
Nursing students will perform various medical checks on the life responsive mannequins, including blood pressure, temperature and procedures such as cardiac, respiratory or child birth. The nursing suite will also have a neo-natal intensive care unit, and an in-home nursing setup.
“This is a true simulation lab,” Kizzort said. “What did you learn, what kinds of things do you think you need to practice on, so they get a lot of good dialogue.”