Mary Baldwin University has selected Wisconsin-based architectural firm Kahler Slater to design its new Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences — a state-of-the-art facility to be built by 2014.

“We are honored to be chosen for this important project for Mary Baldwin University,” said Al Krueger, principal-in-charge at the firm. “Kahler Slater has spent the last 17 years building a specific practice in health sciences education planning and design. We also are experts in health care design so we know the latest trends in the health care industry. We have been working across the country, and recently, in Singapore and are delighted to bring this expertise to the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences.”

Also a respected a leader in sustainable design, Kahler Slater founded the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance in 1997. The company has created four buildings that meet rigorous Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification requirements, and they have 10 additional buildings pending LEED certification.

Representatives from the firm recently met with officials from Mary Baldwin and Augusta County to map out a preliminary vision of the new college, a tool that will help Kahler Slater “ensure that at every juncture during the planning and design of the project, we are keeping the aspirational vision as well as the student and faculty experience at the forefront,” said Kathy Schnuck, project manager/programmer at Kahler Slater.

Martha Jefferson Hospital

The architectural firm has worked on dozens of health care facilities and on academic health sciences buildings around the country, including projects at University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Sciences Learning Center and Marquette University School of Dentistry. Locally, the firm has been involved in new construction at Augusta Health and at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville (pictured at right).

There are certain core elements that Kahler Slater designs into every health sciences facility today. They include advanced technology so that students can learn anywhere in the buildings; high-tech simulation equipment and observation/feedback methods for teaching core competencies; the design of collaboration spaces for interdisciplinary interaction among professions; and the creation of more problem-based, hands-on learning labs instead of traditional classrooms.

“More than a decade ago, Kahler Slater took our strong expertise in health care and our equally strong expertise in higher education and combined the two to create our health sciences education team,” said Senior Principal and Designer Lawrence Schnuck. “At that time, clients across the country were beginning to recognize the need for specially designed, technology-supported, hands-on education facilities to educate health professionals.”

Kahler Slater joins site developers Crescent Development Group LLC of Charlottesville on the project. Crescent Development paired with Augusta County on a proposal that would include the health sciences campus as part of a 160-acre mixed-use development in Fishersville, including 30 acres that would provide close to 200 residential units; a six-acre business park that would offer opportunities for additional medical offices; a 100-acre green-space conservation area; and more than three miles of trails for biking, walking, and running. The hilltop location offers vistas of an array of health care facilities as well as the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains.

Propelled by a $15 million gift — the largest single donation in the college’s history — the Mary Baldwin Board of Trustees voted in fall 2011 to establish graduate programs in the health sciences, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant studies. A ceremonial groundbreaking is planned on site in October.

Photo on front page: Kahler Slater’s portfolio includes the design of the Health Sciences Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.