This is an excerpt from a story originally published by UVA Today. Click here to read the full story.
A massive project seven years in the making comes to fruition Friday with the unveiling of the University of Virginia’s new, state-of-the-art Student Health and Wellness building.
The 165,000-square-foot superstructure houses the four units previously located in the Elson Student Health Center: Medical Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Student Disability Access Center, and Health Promotion and Well-being.
The new center is located at the sound end of Brandon Avenue, near its previous location.
On Friday [October 15] at 5:30 p.m., the building will receive its formal introduction to the University community in a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring UVA President Jim Ryan.
Dr. Christopher Holstege, the center’s executive director, said his team, along with important input from student advisers, has been working on the project since 2014, taking ideas from other top-quality student health centers in the United States.
“I give Pat Lampkin [UVA’s recently retired vice president and chief student affairs officer] a lot of credit,” he said. “She’s the one who [originally] brought the units all together under this one … department, and the reason is they really need to work in a more collaborative fashion.”
Holstege used the example of treating concussions. “Medical Services wants to be aligned and other providers manage that. That’s also been aligned with the health system and how neurology wants it managed,” he said. “The students often need accommodations after a concussion and have to work with the Students Disability Access Center,” and may also seek support from Counseling and Psychological Services.
For UVA students, the new center provides full-circle service that Hostlege has said is “going to be cutting-edge.”
The four-story building is bathed in hues of slate, soft blue and natural wood and filled with natural light, which research shows is a significant mood-booster.
“This is all part of a green street project,” said Jamie Leonard, the director of the Office of Health Promotion. “We are really trying to link the Lawn with the South Lawn and its green space,” she said.
fOne of the goals for the building was to ensure the in- and outward feel of green space and natural environments. You’ll see a lot of the signage or the photos on the walls and things like that are of nature sources. Research shows if you can’t be outside, just even looking at nature or a photo of nature creates more positive well-being.”
Leonard said that’s another goal of the building: to create a space that increases students’ well-being.
“So, just by entering the building, the different design elements – whether it’s the lighting, the sound or the comfortable furniture – these elements are supposed to help physiologically change somebody as they enter into the building,” Leonard said.
Third Floor: The New Home of the Department of Kinesiology
A second student lounge, designed for more introverted students or those seeking a quiet space, occupies a large space on the third floor. It is accented with comfy hanging chairs and soft sitting cushions and is the perfect place to decompress or study quietly.
Also on the third floor is the School of Education and Human Development’s Department of Kinesiology, which relocated from its former space in Memorial Gym.
The department has several laboratories, include ones focused on exercise and sports injury, gait and concussions.
“The department’s move into the new Student Health and Wellness Center creates a lot of great opportunities for us and really helps us in terms of advancing our research mission and our student outcomes mission as well,” Jay Hertel, chair of the department, said. “Having research space that’s actually designed for what we do, as opposed to where we kind of retrofitted into a 95-year-old gymnasium over the last few decades, really provides a great opportunity for us, and we’re really excited to partner with different groups around the University to advance research and education around physical activity, exercise science and sports medicine.”