The University of Florida Student Healthcare Center delivers cutting-edge healthcare design in the heart of the University of Florida. But it's more than just a fancy building - it symbolizes a shift in focus. For generations, the previous building was known as "the infirmary." UF's vision: to create an environment that promotes student well-being over illness treatment. By focusing on fostering wellness, the 46,000-square-foot facility showcases the power of WELL Certification in guiding design priorities.

As the first WELL Platinum Certified university building in the country, this project sets a new standard for university healthcare design. Walker Architects, in collaboration with Cannon Design and the University of Florida, has created a space that embodies the principles of WELL Certification, prioritizing the physical and mental health of students. While being the first of its kind, UF Student Healthcare Center is also the 100th sustainably certified building in UF's history, representing a continued commitment to sustainable building practices.

A New Era in Student Healthcare

Aside from “The Infirmary Building” conjuring images of sickness, the previous facility faced numerous challenges, including outdated equipment and limited resources. Supporting 1,200 patient visits per week, the university recognized the need for a holistic space that would provide comprehensive health services and promote overall well-being among students. The new Student Healthcare Center is a response to this need, offering primary and urgent care, labs, a full-service pharmacy, and comfortable spaces for a full range of student health services.

Designing for Wellness

The design philosophy behind the Student Healthcare Center was informed by WELL Certification criteria. The facility features natural lighting, biophilic design, and sustainable materials, all of which contribute to a healthy and welcoming environment. The benefits of this design approach are twofold: it promotes physical and mental student well-being, while also reducing the university's environmental footprint and operation cost.

Community Impact

The response from the student and university community has been overwhelmingly positive. Students have praised the center's comfortable and inviting atmosphere, citing it as a space that makes them feel welcome and supported. The center has also become a hub for health and wellness initiatives, fostering a sense of community among students.

WELL Certification Achievements

We implemented a range of strategies to achieve WELL Certification for The Student Healthcare Center, including:

  • Enhanced air quality: Advanced HVAC particle filtration and ultraviolet air treatment paired with demand-controlled ventilation delivers fresh air to occupants.
  • Advanced water filtration systems provide clean water for drinking and washing.
  • Acoustic comfort: Sound absorbing flooring, ceilings, finishes, and doors reduce noise pollution and fosters a calm, quiet atmosphere.
  • Sustainable materials: An emphasis on the use of sustainable building materials and waste reduction practices throughout construction.
  • Healthy movement: Visible stair access, active workstations, and access to bicycle and public transit infrastructure encourage an active lifestyle for occupants.
  • Community and inclusion: Enhanced access for users of all abilities, provisions for nursing parents, and enhanced emergency preparedness features were added.
  • Connection to nature: Natural lighting and biophilic design promote mental and physical health by connecting occupants with the lush natural beauty of the area.
  • Indoor plants: Bringing nature inside benefits air quality and promotes overall well-being of occupants.
  • Outdoor comfort: Centralized courtyard with planters and shaded seating, providing views and daylight to large areas of the building.
  • Healthy nutrition: Access to healthy food, and a demonstration kitchen helps educate students about healthy meal preparation.

The center's performance against WELL standards is impressive, with data showing significant improvements in air and water quality, as well as reduced energy consumption.

Construction and Collaboration

The construction process was a collaborative effort between Walker Architects, Cannon Design, and the construction team. The project's success is a testament to the power of teamwork and the importance of prioritizing student well-being in university healthcare design.

A New Standard

UF Student Healthcare Center stands as a milestone in advancing university healthcare design. It demonstrates the impact of striving toward WELL Certification on student well-being. As the first WELL Certified student healthcare center in the United States, it sets a new standard for universities to prioritize the health and wellness of their students. As we look to the future of student healthcare design, one thing is clear: WELL Certification is the key to creating spaces that support the whole student – body, mind, and spirit.

To learn more about our commitment to wellness and sustainability, check out our podcast, Design for an Agile World! Joe Walker, President and Managing Principal of Walker Architects sits down with other thought leaders across multiple industries to share stories and perspectives about designing a world where everyone wins. Or sign up for The Solve, a monthly letter directly from Joe’s desk.