Monthly Archives: June 2013

CHBS Building Blog – Installment 2

By CHBS Dean’s Office

Key Organizational Drivers

  • Encourage CONNECTIONS using shared spaces
  • Multiple departments per floor – MIXING
  • ACTIVATE each floor
  • Natural LIGHT
  • Distribute INFORMAL LEARNING spaces throughout

JMU has received funding for the construction phase of our project!  Meanwhile, the process of planning the new CHBS building continued with all-day meetings among the EYP architects and CHBS stakeholders on June 4 and 5, 2013.  During these meetings we reviewed and discussed preliminary plans for public spaces, classrooms, and the spaces being designed for use by each of the departments that will move to our new building.  The key organizational drivers for the entire building are described in the box to the right.  In this installment of our blog, we will provide more detail regarding the plans that are developing.

Public Space

Our building will include a substantial volume of public space that will invite building visitors to enter and explore our building, and will provide residents with places that facilitate interaction.  In this large, multi-story building, we want to make it easy for visitors to feel well orientated, and we want to make it easy to find their way around.  We want individuals to feel comfortable working, waiting or resting between classes or other activities.  We want to provide many opportunities for people to interact with other in ways that promote interprofessional and interdepartmental collaborations.  Even hallways are being considered opportunities to communicate with students and other building visitors.  We want to facilitate communication among individuals who encounter each other as they traverse the building.

Public spaces include areas for informal learning, study spaces, and pre-function spaces where individuals can wait before going into a larger room.  These sorts of spaces are scattered throughout the building.  The center of the building will contain the largest volume of public space, with inviting areas for sitting and interacting.  Substantial attention is being paid to strategically placing windows throughout the building to bring natural light into public spaces including the center of the building.  Use of glass on inner walls will help visitors appreciate what is taking place within closed rooms and will bring light to the interior of the building.

The nature of the public spaces will vary across the building.  Some areas will need to accommodate a large flow of students who leave and enter classrooms in great numbers at certain times each day.  Other areas will be quieter and can include individual and group study spaces with a range of furnishings for different types of activities.  The whole building will have substantial wireless internet capacity and we have discussed the importance of providing power in public spaces for recharging laptops, notepads and telephones.


The building includes 17 classrooms of various sizes from large tiered lecture halls to small seminar rooms.  Substantial attention is being paid to room design to optimize the student experience in every space.  This includes trying to designing lecture classrooms so they feel like intimate spaces for student-faculty and student-student interaction.  Consultants are helping us design classrooms that take full advantage of advanced technology that is likely to be available in three years when the building opens, and can easily be upgraded to options that emerge in the more distant future.  Our classrooms are being designed not only facilitate lecture-style teaching, but also more interactive mode of instruction including project-based learning.  Room furnishings and placement of low-tech teaching tools such as white boards will be carefully selected to facilitate the wide range of pedagogy that takes place in our college.

Overall Layout

JMU ET_Concept Design Side View

Click image to enlarge.

The diagram to the right depicts the overall layout of the building.  As you can see, the most accessible and most public floors will be on the ground level and first floor.  The next three floors facilitate interprofessional learning.  The top floor will be the quietest area within the building.  As we continue, we’ll describe our plans, floor-by-floor.

Ground Floor

Most visitors to our building will enter the ground-floor level, after waling through a courtyard on the south side of the building that is oriented towards the quad.  On this level we will have some of our largest lecture halls and classrooms.  On this floor there will also be a suite for the dietetics program that includes a dining facility that will also be used for scheduled events.  A large stairway and three elevators will take you to higher levels within the building.

First Floor

A small entrance on the northern side of the building, facing Cantrell Avenue, will bring off-campus visitors directly into the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic operated by the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD).  This clinic provides services to the community while also serving as a training ground for students and an applied research center.  Offices for CSD faculty and staff are also on this floor as well as the offices for Creative Services.  There are also 4 classrooms on this floor.

A small entrance on the east side of the building will bring visitors to this floor from nearby parking decks.  Most visitors are expected to enter this floor through the ground-level entrance and then up the stairs or elevator.

Second Floor

The home office for the Social Work Department will be on this floor; this will include offices for all faculty and staff and workspaces for students.  Facilitating interprofessional collaborations, this floor will also include offices for some Health Sciences faculty, Occupational Therapy and Athletic Training labs.  The floor also includes a Nursing Skills lab as well as two classrooms.

Third Floor

The home office for the Health Sciences Department will be on this floor.  A substantial number of Health Sciences faculty and staff offices will be located here as well as some offices for some Nursing faculty members. Laboratories on the third floor include Skills Labs for Social Work, a Simulation Lab for Nursing, and a Home Environment Lab for Health Sciences.  There are four classrooms on this floor.

Fourth Floor

The home office for the Nursing Department will be on this floor.  A substantial number of Nursing faculty and staff offices will be here as well as offices for some Health Sciences faculty members.  This floor will have Health Assessment and Practical labs for Nursing, as well as three classrooms.

Fifth Floor

The Dean’s Office suite will be on the top floor of the building.  This floor will also include a large meeting room for scheduled events and laboratories for Communication Sciences and Disorders research.