Facility Focus (LEED Platinum Facilities)

Washington University: Hillman Hall

Washington University: Hillman Hall


The design of the new 106,000-gross-square-foot Hillman Hall for the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis redefines the traditional academic building through open floor plans that encourage collaboration and offer equitable access to natural light. With its commitment to LEED Platinum sustainability, diversity and accessibility, Hillman is one of the most innovative buildings in higher education.

Mackey Mitchell worked in partnership with Moore Ruble Yudell Architects to design the facility. The highly collaborative process included early design workshops with administrators, faculty, staff and students to identify priorities and build consensus. Consensus from these workshops supported a building that explores new design strategies and pedagogy inspiring progressive education, research and collaboration.

The building features more than 6,200 square feet of social space designed to promote faculty, staff and student interaction and collaboration. On each floor, occupants circulate along the internal “street,” always visually connected to daylight and views with a variety of adjacent spaces promoting chance encounters for increased interaction. An extensive WiFi network supports workspaces and outdoor study areas. Glasswalled offices and open workstations also enhance collaboration. A variety of settings are provided through colors, smells, materials and furnishings to suit the varying needs of faculty, students and staff.

Ample views to the outdoors, access to daylight, interior vegetation, outdoor classrooms and biophilic design elements are provided. Naturally ventilated double-story Interior Gardens allow researchers to connect more closely with nature and the outdoors and with others while allowing deeper daylight penetration into the upper floors. Outdoor classrooms and meditation areas support a variety of learning environments and experiences.

The Forum, a two-story multipurpose space, provides a light-filled area for a range of activities from informal gatherings to formal lectures supported by retractable glass walls, full audio/visual support and darkening shades. Curving floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide a panoramic view.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management September 2016 issue of Spaces4Learning.