Health and Natural Science Building
Location: Dahlonega, Georgia
Size: 120,000 SF
Photographed by Jim Roof
The initial phase in an expansion master plan for an architecturally traditional campus, this building speaks boldly of innovation and contemporary technology while sensitively engaging the historical and geophysical qualities of its locale.
Its hilltop site overlooks the main campus, the town of Dahlonega and the mountains beyond, which have a significant history of mining for gold and semi-precious gemstones. The angular, crystalline shape of the lobby curtain wall recalls the irregular geometry of minerals. A thrusting, slanted form anchors the building like a mine’s shaft house; it animates the lobby and allows for dramatic interior sight lines. The stair leading uphill to the building’s main entry suggests a slice into the earth. Inside, a ramp continues this ascent, within the “mineshaft,” to the building’s upper floors, symbolizing the ongoing journey through life toward knowledge.
The design embodies ideas about education in general and the natural sciences in particular. A large exhibit wall highlighting the health and natural sciences is a focal point in the main lobby. From there, the building extends into two wings. One, serving the functional needs of the school, houses classrooms, laboratories and offices for the Departments of Nursing, Physical Therapy and Biology, and a small primary-care climic. The other wing is oriented toward the larger public, and includes a 350-seat art lecture hall flanked by a media center and computer labs, and a 50-seat planetarium. Spectacular mountain views from each level speak to the power of nature as teacher.
Narrative by Jonathan Lerner