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Projects • Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University recently completed a 30,000 SF expansion to the School of Nursing. Situated between Frist Hall and the historic Godchaux Hall, the 5-story addition includes technologically advanced classrooms, conference and seminar rooms, student services offices, faculty offices, and a state-of-the-art simulation teaching lab.

The expansion was not a typical project for SSR’s team. For starters, the existing Frist Hall remained in operation as a classroom building throughout the 14 month construction process. Special attention had to be given to construction times and system installation so not to disrupt the students and faculty. Additionally, due to the age of Godchaux Hall, the team was designing around structures with different floor heights. To combat this aesthetically, a light-filled five-story atrium was designed to serve as a bridge between the two structures. This atrium is also the school’s new main entrance and lobby. The floor heights also presented issues with equipment allowances and the team had to come up with creative solutions. One solution included leaving existing infrastructure in place to mitigate construction cost, to stay within the project budget, and to minimize the disruption to the existing building systems, in coordination with the new architectural vision for the existing building components and how they blended with the new addition.

From an infrastructure standpoint, Vanderbilt decided that new buildings will be served by the campus underground utility infrastructure from their power plant. To accommodate this, SSR’s MEPT team connected campus chilled water, steam, and 15kV power to the existing buildings and the new addition that included a utility tunnel for routing of the utilities and utilized the tunnel for part of the smoke evaluation from the atrium in case of fire.

One of the key project goals was the health and well-being of occupants. Designed to target LEED Gold® and WELL Silver certification, special consideration was given to air quality, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind throughout the building. To help promote well-being, SSR designed the building’s lighting to support human circadian rhythms with optimum light intensity for at least four hours a day every day of the year, including abundant natural light. The strategic placement of mechanical systems and ductwork to reduce noise is another feature designed to WELL standards.

From a technology standpoint, SSR designed the structured cabling to allow for some of the latest technology for integrated learning. A virtual classroom incorporates leading-edge online and distance technology to facilitate distance learning, and an interactive classroom facilitates large- and small-group interactions with electronic methods that allow for sharing of group data and findings. The entire third floor was designed as the school’s Simulation and Skills Lab, a technologically sophisticated teaching/learning space that contains advanced equipment and 13 patient care bays that can be used for emergency, obstetrics, pediatric, bedside, practitioner office or neonatal nursery settings.


  • Vanderbilt University

Project Completion

  • 2019

Awards & Distinctions

  • AIA Middle Tennessee Design Award, Merit


Project Size

  • 30,000 SF