The demand for nurses is sharply rising and the Harford Community College (HCC) School of Nursing and Allied Health is investing in the future of educating young minds with a passion for helping others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020. The demand for nurses is so high that 100% of HCC’s Spring and Fall graduating classes of 2016 are employed in nursing fields. HCC hired HCM because the school recognized the need for a modern nursing-specific building to remain competitive in attracting applicants.
Our team of architects and designers took a step back to find out why nursing was such a popular choice of study at HCC and what our design could do to improve the program. HCC’s central Maryland location offers an opportunity to recruit prospective students from all across the state. The college is just miles from the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line and is uniquely situated between multiple metropolises in Pennsylvania to the north and east and Baltimore and Washington D.C. to the west and south. The School of Nursing’s success can also be attributed to Maryland’s excellent resume of internationally-known hospitals. Among them: Mercy Medical Center, Medstar Union Memorial and Franklin Square Medical Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, University Maryland Medical System, Sinai Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital. These factors had to be taken into consideration when designing the School of Nursing in order to accommodate higher enrollment and future expansion.
The project includes laboratories for nursing, credit and non-credit courses in allied health including EMT training, nurse assisting, nurse refresher, obstetrics and pediatrics. A simulation center, active-learning classrooms, lecture halls, offices and a conference center are also provided. A wide variety of informal learning spaces for collaborative group study are distributed throughout the atrium and adjacent to labs. A new vehicular and pedestrian movement master plan for the campus was done in conjunction with this design.
The building, which opened in August 2014, had to integrate distinct academic programs, Nursing and Allied Health, into a synergistic, collaborative, interdisciplinary environment. The building had a campus role as the first contemporary participant on what will become a new campus quad.
To punctuate the concept of synergy the building is two bars with a collaborative, common space in the center. The two programs maintain identity on distinct floors but share a floor of classrooms and informal learning between. Floor openings in the common space help to integrate. Various learning spaces outside of the classrooms included enclosed group study rooms, customizable soft seating, open tiered atrium seating, and even a small amphitheater in the quad, all enabled with technology. Latest trends in technology, audio visual and security combine to allow students to customize their learning, practice time, recording and viewing of their simulation sessions and use of the building.
A health inspiring environment was pivotal as an example to medical education students. Maximizing daylight at every opportunity, even in labs where windows compete with hospital bed head walls, windows were provided. The interior is light, open, transparent and encourages use of stairs. A living wall was designed as an accent to wellness. High efficiency HVAC, material of recycled content, stormwater cleaned in rain gardens highlight sustainable features producing a building eligible for LEED Silver certification.