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Constructing a Dream: Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences

The Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences is growing and moving to Greenfield Corporate Center in Lancaster, Pa. Here are interviews with college president Mary Grace Simcox and members of the High project team discussing the vision and construction of the new learning environment.

Mary Grace Simcox, President, Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences: We’re standing outside what will be the new home of the College come August 2016. We are at the Greenfield property on Greenfield Road.

Bill Boben, Associate Broker, High Associates Ltd.: There’s going to be probably, in the next five years, 5,000 new students here along with all the supporting faculty and services within the Center. What we’re going to be looking at is probably some housing opportunities. We’re going to see some growth in terms of our amenity packages. Probably some shops and restaurants. We’ll probably see some new tenants that want to be close to the action here. Maybe the biosciences area. People that are looking to hire nurses or hire health care practitioners. We’ll see more people walking the streets here along the sidewalk. Probably some growth in terms of the infrastructure. So the whole gamut has been “amped up.”

Mary Grace Simcox: It’ll be an environment where the students are encouraged to be creative and inquisitive. They’ll actually be rewarded for thinking outside the box in terms of how we deliver health care, what are the issues around health care, and how they can be the best at providing care to the Lancaster community and beyond. So we actually made a conscious decision to make a shift from teaching to learning and we want to be focused on the mind, body, and spirit of the learner. This Greenfield property actually gives us the opportunity to create from scratch an environment where the focus is all on learning.

So in terms of addressing students’ minds, that will take place in the classrooms and all of the learning spaces that are here. In terms of their body, we actually have a fitness center and a health suite that will allow the students to attend to the physical needs of their body. And then there will be a rejuvenation center or a Wellness Center. It’ll be the only unplugged area in this 300,000 square feet that we’ll have. And, we really want a place for the students to be able to come and to have some time for reflection to turn off the outside world, to just to regroup and then go back into this chaotic world that we tend to live in.

Ross Ansel, Project Architect, Greenfield Architects, Ltd.: Part of the vision is the ability to design spaces that give interaction to the students, to not only the faculty but amongst themselves within the spaces. So large open areas that are highly visible provide spaces where students are going to congregate, talk about what they’ve learned about, and try to apply some of the things they’ve learned in a collaborative effort.

Bill Boben: The entire project really is a collaboration between the High companies, the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, and Lancaster General Health. and the Boards of all those organizations. And really the tantamount part of this relationship is trust.

Ross Ansel: A normal project goes through schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction administration phase, and that takes a various amount of time depending on the complexity the project. On this project the College had a need to really know when they wanted to be in and operate their academic portion of the project in their classes. When you back that up that put a lot of responsibility on the front and a schematic design and design development for this project

So essentially we were detailing for the project while we were still working through schematic design decisions and programming refinement. We’re still proceeding full speed ahead on detailing. That required us to take a lot of steps back and redo things that we’ve done to facilitate the very detailed and quick moving schedule of the College to accommodate their needs to be able to to get the academic portion of the project up and running.

Tom Marcinkoski, Staff Architect, Greenfield Architects, Ltd.: The current comparison, I should say with their existing buildings, just—there is none. It’s its too fragmented in the current layout, multiple floors, too small a footprint for the building. I think it’s going to be a better situation all around.

Frank Fox, President, Greenfield Architects, Ltd.: We actually have the development group, the ownership of the building, and we have construction and the architects, we’re all in-house and we can all respond quickly. We’re in the same building and we all communicate much quicker and efficiently. And we all have a stake in this. This is our company. We’re all part of the High organization. So we all have a stake in the success of this project.

Rick Stoudt, President, High Construction Company: Really, this team gelled very early on and started to trust each other. So even during the design process everybody realized each entity had its own responsibility. We’re all in this together. and if one of us fell here the other one picked up over here. and that really developed a sense trust with all the team members. So now that we’re at the construction phase all of that’s been done, the trust is in place and it’s just working beautifully. I can’t say enough about the collaboration.

Greg Spaulding. Senior Project Manager, High Construction Company: I can tell you from first-hand experience that we’ve got the right team put together, we have the appropriate project management supervision, the right parties in place, and we’ve had a very cooperative owner in making sure that we select the right subcontractors to do the job, and do the job right, and do the job on schedule.

John Burkholder, Senior Job Superintendent Lead, High Construction Company: We’re going to totally renovate the interior and exterior of the warehouse and the office building. Everything will be demolished wall to wall, first and second floor, and it will be all new walls, partitions, food service, and everything …

Greg Spaulding: We’re transforming a 150,000 (approximate)-square-foot warehouse into a two-story classroom building for the College which will be the new home for the students and we’re adding a second floor mezzanine to the existing warehouse. So we’re adding an entire structure for the second floor and basically building a new building from the inside out.

Mary Grace Simcox:  The beauty of the project for me from my perspective is that we have a large group of people who are all extremely committed to what I call a love affair for our College. And so we have certainly the College community, our Board of Trustees, the Lancaster General Health Board of Trustees, but we also have High Industries who believes in the purpose of the College as well as the benefit to Lancaster County and beyond.

You can think it . You can dream it. It’s inside this new building.