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Health Sciences Innovation Building Wins Architectural Awards

The Health Sciences Innovation Building is twice recognized nationally as a top architectural project.
Discover the architecture of the Health Sciences Innovation Building.

Health Sciences Innovation Building Wins Architectural Awards

The University of Arizona Health Sciences campus in Tucson is home to the Health Sciences Innovation Building (HSIB), a multidisciplinary educational and research facility that supports Health Sciences and its five colleges: College of Medicine – Tucson, College of Nursing, College of PharmacyMel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and College of Medicine – Phoenix.

Officially opened in 2019, the building also was designed to be a hub of interprofessional activities and a host of collaborations, with architectural detail to encourage the flow of people and ideas toward connections. Now, the architectural industry is recognizing the building’s success.

Prestigious architectural honors

HSIB is the work of CO Architects, which has won two national awards for the building’s unique design.

Several decks and patio areas allow people access to outdoor spaces, even on the upper floors of the nine-story building.

A jury of architects, designers and communications professionals recognized the project with a 2020 American Architecture Award. The HSIB project was selected out of a group of 400 nominations for the award, which celebrates “the most outstanding architecture designed and built or unbuilt throughout the nation or abroad, by firms with offices in the United States.”

“This American Architecture Award is a tribute to our team’s insightful work on the University of Arizona HSIB,” said Scott Kelsey, FAIA, managing principal at CO Architects. “Our architects creatively unified the new multi-purpose building with its environment, echoing our mission to elevate communities with benchmark design.”

Additionally, after winning the Engineering News-Record’s southwest regional award last fall, the publication selected HSIB as its 2020 national winner in the higher education/universities category, standing out among all other regional winners in the category.

The project also has been named a finalist in the 2021 AZ Real Estate Development (RED) Awards presented by AZRE Magazine.

A unique design connects education and research spaces

To support the health care workforce of tomorrow, Health Sciences has developed pioneer programs anchored in HSIB, including a design thinking school and courses focused on interprofessional education and training, which help boost the goal of integrating comprehensive care across the health care professions.

Inside a small meeting space in the Faculty Commons + Advisory.

The campus’ existing education and research buildings prominently feature masonry brick. CO Architects selected terracotta, which twists vertically along the eastern exterior, to connect the HSIB to the mid-century rust-colored brick aesthetic. The material and design choice was inspired by the vertical lines of a saguaro cactus, and its twisting look causes light and shadow to change dynamically on the building’s façade and interior. The terracotta also improves the building’s energy performance.

A new experience on each floor

Inside, each floor is designed to intuitively serve its distinct purpose.

The Health Sciences’ floor-by-floor video tour of HSIB illustrates the innovative design in action.

The signature feature on the first floor is The Forum, an open convening space created to host conferences, classes and events, with the goal of creating a bridge between Health Sciences, the rest of the campus and the local community. The multi-story space is uninterrupted by vertical columns and opens to the campus through three glass hangar doors, expanding the space seamlessly and supporting events from 50 to 1,000 guests.

The unique Faculty Commons + Advisory on the second floor is a dedicated space for faculty and staff to learn, relax, confer and create. It plays host to office hours for various faculty resource units such as Tech Launch Arizona and the Conflict of Interest Program, plus regular events such as Tech Talk Tuesdays lectures about the latest advancements and applications of science.

The Arizona Simulation Technology & Education Center allows students to train in health care skills using new technology.

The El Mirador Project infuses art throughout the building, connecting health and humanities for anyone using HSIB.

Classroom and study space on floors three through six provide Health Sciences with flexible options that can adapt to the changing needs of the community. A feature called “the porch” provides study space along a stairwell that promotes movement throughout the building, said Angela Souza, executive director for planning and facilities at Health Sciences.

 “Floors three through six provide the student support space, which was the most requested space from our students when we were planning the building,” she said. “We also have several patio areas off of that student space that they can use.”

Then, a state-of-the-art Arizona Simulation Technology & Education Center fills the seventh floor. The training center is inspired by black-box theater and features a “Simulation Deck” for immersive simulation environments that mimic realistic, multi-sensory experiences supplemented by a viewing gallery.

On the eighth floor, 30 exam rooms for interprofessional education and clinicals skills practice allow students to work with trained, volunteer patients to further their studies.

Health Sciences’ administrative offices occupy the ninth floor and features uninterrupted north-south and east-west views of the Health Sciences campus and Banner – University Medical Center Tucson.