SPH Message from the Office of the Dean Banner


SPH Students, Faculty and Staff:

To view prior building updates, please visit this page on the SPH Intranet.

Project Progress

With the development of the project target program and target budget (last update), the project has started to shift more toward design planning. That design work will progress more or less from the outside in and from the bottom to the top. “Outside In” means starting with the exterior walls, as the core and shell of the building will be built first. In doing so, certain decisions made now will limit later interior options. Most of those decisions relate to the common areas in the basement and first two floors, which is why the design work will progress somewhat from the bottom to the top.


The architects have begun to create some conceptual sketches of what the building might look like to visualize the north and south approaches, to see how overhangs or building indents might help break up the ‘big box’, and to think about how best to fit the building into the site. The fact that there are no buses or cars pictured on 15th Ave NE should tell you just how conceptual these sketches are at this point.

Population Health Building North Entrance

Sketch of the north entrance

Population Health Building South Entrance

Sketch of the south entrance

Why is the exterior ‘ruffled’ in these sketches? Mainly because of the large western face of the building. To help reduce the load on internal air conditioning systems, as we try to meet Seattle energy code and generally build a sustainable building, the exterior of the building will need to help with some thermal shielding. Exactly what type of system, how much of the building it will cover, how active or passive it will be, how it will be fitted to the building while still maximizing natural light within the building, and how the system will work (or not) with operating windows, is yet to be determined. Similarly, the exterior material(s) are as yet undetermined while aesthetic and engineering issues are being reviewed – but it is pretty clear that the building will not be a simple glass and steel structure.

Daycare & Classrooms

Moving inside the building, the first floor (sketch below) will house the primary ‘public space’ for the building as a whole. While there will be conference rooms, kitchens and other common areas throughout the rest of the building, most of the high-traffic spaces that invite visitors to the building will be on the first floor, in part to reduce the need for additional elevators to the other floors. Inclusion of daycare facilities on the first floor was extensively studied, but turned out to be infeasible for both economic and space reasons. That leaves a first floor with eating space (e.g., a café), classrooms and other group gathering spaces. There are two 50-person classrooms and one 80-120 person room that can be used as a classroom or opened up to combine with the café seating area and used as a larger gathering/presentation room (think: population health seminars, receptions, etc.). The large room and café spaces will be double-height to allow for visibility during larger gatherings. There may be a way to fit another classroom space into daylight basement space below this level. The size/shape of the basement is still being determined pending some groundwater studies (yes, some water seems to seep through this site from the hillside above) and pending the siting of building cisterns to capture rainwater for reuse within the building.

Population Health Building First Floor Sketch

Sketch of the first floor

The Rest of the Building

Very little work has yet been done on the rest of the building. Because of the size of the building, there will be two cores (elevators, plus electrical, mechanical, plumbing pathways, etc.), roughly in the locations being shown (sketch below). Despite the apparent specificity in the sketch, the general location of bathrooms, kitchens and other plumbing-dependent spaces has not yet been set. The same is true for interior interconnecting stairs. These are the sorts of items that are the next order of business for the interior design group. Once these have been set, attention will at long last begin to turn toward more thoughtful and thorough design of the interior spaces.

Population Health Building Floorplan

Sketch of the general floorplan

Thank you,

Uli Haller
Senior Director, SPH Finance & Administration
University of Washington School of Public Health

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