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UF Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Innovation and Learning Lab

Designing Learning Spaces for the Future of Nursing Education

a Space to simulate reality

Designed to reflect the ascendant role of nursing in healthcare, the Innovation and Learning Lab creates a supportive environment for experiential and interdisciplinary learning, the kind of education that helps students become confident and skilled nursing professionals. 

In collaboration with the University of Florida’s College of Nursing, we transformed a 5,639-square-foot space into a state-of-the-art simulation and learning lab for modern nursing education. Working closely with Anna M. McDaniel, College of Nursing dean, our team created a renovation strategy aligned with new needs, providing sufficient flexibility to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) as future learning tools.

Project Owner

UF College of Nursing


Gainesville, FL

Completion Date

November 2020

Project Size

6,000 SF



Delivery Method

Design Build


Affiliated Engineers, Inc.

Innovation and Learning Lab

Located in UF’s Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy Building, the Innovation and Learning Lab incorporates seven simulation rooms where students practice a range of skills—from fundamental skills related to patient comfort and hygiene to more involved procedures like intubation or preparing patients for surgery. The lab also contains a prep room, a control and observation room with views into all simulation rooms, and a debriefing room where students receive instruction, mentoring, and constructive feedback. A large, adaptable gathering space, known as the innovation studio, is available for lectures and collaborative learning, creating synergy across disciplines and across the research

“The facility we had was woefully outdated. In particular, we wanted to use simulation to replicate real-world clinical practices in a facility that didn’t support what we were trying to do. Now it works very well, and the space is beautiful.”

Anna McDaniel, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean And Linda Harman Aiken Professor

Innovation and Learning Lab
Morphing the Lab Based on Student Needs

As a high-tech learning environment with multiple monitors, simulation equipment, and other technical apparatus, the Innovation Lab required a plan that would support miles of wires and cables. We also created floorplans that facilitate traffic flow throughout and make sure that each individual room is designed and scaled to function precisely as it is meant to. Doorways and hallways were designed to be wide enough to allow large equipment to pass through, and storage solutions had to address accessibility and make efficient use of limited space.

Rather than use an accordion partition, we employed a wall that lifts into the ceiling, an inventive solution that allows the space to scale depending upon uses while offering both aesthetic and functional advantages.

Innovation and Learning Lab
Innovation and Learning Lab

“The big gathering space, the innovation studio, had specific power requirements, as well as specific needs for window shading to darken the room for presentations, and for a moveable wall that would allow for dividing the room into two spaces when desired.”

Yenisley Lopez, Designer and Project Manager at Walker Architects

Innovation and Learning Lab
The Space to Move Our Mission Forward

While the nature of the facility created an emphasis on function and flexibility, the Innovation and Learning Lab also reveals a thoughtful consideration of aesthetics. The University of Florida’s signature bright blue appears on surfaces throughout the space, along with a paint palette in soft shades of gray and off-white and an occasional orange wall for contrast and warmth. Cabinets have a light, warm-grained wood finish. The effect is crisp and clean, welcoming and calm.    

“This new, advanced space is so important to our mission. Walker did an amazing job creating a space aligned with our needs—and it was on time and under budget.”

Anna McDaniel, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean And Linda Harman Aiken Professor 

Innovation and Learning Lab
Innovation and Learning Lab


Selected Works

Exactech Parking GarageWelcome to Exactech

IT RenovationA Launchpad for Online Learning

Career Connections CenterThe Bridge from College to Professional Life

UF Norman Hall RehabilitationCollege of Education Revisioning

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