The Miller Hull Partnership’s new Health Sciences and Education Building (HSEB) for the University of Washington (UW) utilizes sustainable strategies to deliver co-disciplinary research, classroom, and collaborative spaces for the next generation of healthcare professionals. Featuring an innovative composite structural system consisting of steel, concrete, and notably, mass timber, the HSEB is the first project to be completed under UW’s new campus masterplan.
In an attempt to forgo the sterile interiors which typically define healthcare architecture, Miller Hull chose to include cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels in the HSEB’s ceiling assemblies, adding a natural texture to the interior of the building. Early on in the design process, the architects realized that a fully mass timber structure was not feasible due to the necessity of long horizontal spans, which would require too many columns to enable open and flexible classrooms and collaboration spaces.
The resulting hybrid system—developed in a collaborative effort between Lease Crutcher Lewis, KPFF, and University of Washington researchers—consists of CLT panels topped with a concrete slab and supported by 53-foot-spans of steel beam. Normally, long spans of steel require deep beams which shrink ceiling height. Through the addition of concrete, the depth of the composite system was reduced, allowing for taller-interior spaces.