UNC-Chapel Hill Opens the Doors of New Koury Oral Health Sciences Building

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After a four-year construction process, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has formally dedicated its newest facility on the School of Dentistry complex. Designed by Flad Architects, this 216,000-square-foot building adds amenities that will help UNC remain at the top of dental education.

Committed to enhancing the quality of dental education, research, patient care, and service within the state of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill formally dedicated its newest facility, the Koury Oral Health Sciences Building, after a four-year construction process. This addition will enable the UNC School of Dentistry to eventually expand D.D.S. class enrollment size and respond to 21st century opportunities, discoveries, and advancements in the field.

Designed by Flad Architects, the new Koury Oral Health Sciences Building realizes the university’s vision. “We want to see Carolina remain at the top of dental education, and this building will allow us to use innovation to its best advantage in the new educational methodology,” said Dr. Janet Guthmiller, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

The 216,000-square-foot building was envisioned as a dynamic, functional, and inspiring environment – one capable of recruiting top-tier students and faculty and increasing the school’s visibility within the national dental community. Having experienced significant growth since its opening in 1950, a collection of five interconnected buildings had emerged over the years. Each one answered the program’s specific needs at the time, but after five decades, several renovations, and rapidly advancing technology, a new solution was necessary to provide the modern classrooms and cutting-edge research laboratories crucial to the school’s continued excellence.

The facility is composed of two wings occupying the corner of South Columbia Street and Manning Drive at the southern edge of campus. Its precise placement among the existing dental buildings links the old and new construction, unifying the complex and fostering a sense of community. The Dental Commons, a soaring sky-lit atrium on the first floor, serves as the complex’s major social center, housing a café for mid-day breaks and ample tiered seating to easily accommodate assemblies and events.

“One of our goals from the beginning was to create a social hub for the school, its patients, and its visitors to enjoy,” said Chuck Mummert, design architect at Flad. “By recovering the underutilized courtyards and alleyways between existing buildings, we were able to incorporate this light-filled Dental Commons area as a space not only connecting the buildings, but the people who use them as well.”

Other key features of the project include:

  • A signature 220-seat grand lecture hall in the West Lobby complete with video conferencing and distance-learning technology.
  • Two 120-seat lecture halls, one capable of two-way distance learning.
  • A 105-seat simulation laboratory giving students the opportunity to learn and develop their clinical skills before providing care to patients.
  • Five 30-seat seminar rooms for graduate seminars and small group discussions, one equipped for distance learning via live lecture broadcasts over the Web or through direct audiovisual feed.
  • Laboratories characterized by movable casework allowing different arrangements as the research changes and centralized, shared support rooms for fume hoods and equipment.
  • Office and conference spaces.

In addition to creating better connections between the dental buildings, this facility has produced clearer, more convenient pedestrian paths that extend beyond the complex to the rest of campus. As a literal crossroads between neighboring academic, research, and healthcare facilities, the project integrates several main thoroughfares, restores green space in the Dental Quadrangle, and extends a much needed pedestrian bridge over Manning Drive linking the school to south campus. Where a clear entrance to the south end of the university had been absent, these upgrades have established a formal doorway and a fresh new identity for the School of Dentistry.

The facility employs a variety of new technologies that support resource conservation and enhanced building performance. Its design is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and is on track to receive Silver certification. A series of ‘firsts’ for the campus are part of the project, including the first building to capture and use condensate water from the mechanical equipment and the first building on campus to employ fluid dynamic modeling and use smoke curtains to design the smoke evacuation system.

“The new Koury Oral Health Sciences Building will provide an impressive gateway for the university’s southern entrance. Students, faculty, and visitors will appreciate the efforts that have been made to design and construct a building that is not only attractive and functional, but also environmentally friendly,” said Dr. Ken May, Vice Dean. “The school’s missions of education, research, and services will benefit tremendously from the broad array of facilities that this building will add to our dental complex.”

About Flad Architects
Flad Architects (http://www.flad.com) specializes in the planning and design of innovative facilities for healthcare, higher education, and science and technology clients. With offices throughout the United States, Flad is a nationally recognized leader in serving the complex needs of knowledge-based organizations.

About The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (http://www.unc.edu), the nation’s first public university, serves North Carolina, the United States, and the world through teaching, research, and public service. With an unwavering commitment to excellence as one of the world’s great research universities, UNC’s vibrant people and programs attest to the university’s long-standing place among leaders in higher education since it was chartered in 1789 and opened its doors for students in 1795. UNC prides itself on a strong, diverse student body, academic opportunities not found anywhere else, and a value unmatched by any public university in the nation.

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Mary Hirsch
Flad Architects
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