George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health doesn’t just promote public health through teaching—its smart design also steers people to make healthier everyday choices. Boston-based Payette Architects and D.C.-based Ayers Saint Gross Architects designed the $75 million LEED Platinum-certified academic building, located just a few blocks away from the White House. The architects designed a beautiful, centrally located stairway to encourage physical exercise over taking the elevator, and did away with vending machines and coffee bars in favor of kitchens to promote cooking and healthy eating.
The 161,100-square-foot Milken Institute School of Public Health was a difficult design challenge given its many programmatic requirements, odd triangular geometry, and restrictive zoning regulations that capped the allowable floor area and imposed a 90-foot maximum height limitation. The architects successfully overcame the unusual site geometry with an exposed post-tensioned cast-in-place concrete structural system and a seven-story atrium that fills the building with natural light and creates a sense of spaciousness without exceeding the allowed building area.
In addition to centrally located stairs (and the somewhat hidden elevators), other ways the architects engineered public health into the building include the encourage of movement with standing desks and an indoor bicycle rack; clean indoor air with the help of low-light plants, a strong air filtration system, and sustainable low-VOC materials; and access to natural light, views, and a walkable neighborhood. The energy efficient school building earned LEED Platinum certification with eco-friendly elements such as local and recycled materials, a green roof, rainwater collection system, and low-flow plumbing. The project recently won a 2016 AIANY COTE Honor Award.
Images via Payette, © Robert Benson