A $95 Million, 52,000-Square-Foot Nursing Education, Research & Practice Center Opens In The Bronx

Published on February 23, 2024, 2:14 pm
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Marking the completion of Lehman College’s most significant capital project in its history, the new Nursing Education, Research and Practice Center (NERPC) officially opened its doors with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. The Lehman College leadership and students, elected officials, representatives of the owner City College of New York (CUNY), project manager the Dormitory Authority of New York (DASNY), Urbahn Architects, and contractor Citnalta Construction led the ceremonies.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, New York State Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado, Senator Luis Sepúlveda, Senator Robert Jackson, and Assembly Members George Alvarez and Jeffrey Dinowitz as well as New York City Council Member Rafael Salamanca joined the event.

New York State funded the project through the City University of New York (CUNY) Capital Improvement Program, with additional funding from the New York City Council and the Bronx Borough President’s Office. Nursing is one of the most popular majors at Lehman, and the department is expanding its offerings with a new doctor in nursing practice (DNP) program beginning in Fall 2020. The NERPC consolidates the functions of the department, which had been previously located in different venues, into one integrated and purpose-designed facility.

“The opening of our new Nursing Education, Research, and Practice Center represents our commitment to our students, our community, and our city. In what can be considered a critical and important time in healthcare, offering students hands-on training is essential in preparing them as they go into practice, ensuring they can deliver the best possible care to their patients,” said Dr. Fernando Delgado, Lehman College President. “We celebrate this opening and look forward to developing and nurturing future generations of qualified and skilled nurses in our new facility.”

“The new Nursing Center puts our students at the head of the class to prepare them for countless scenarios they will encounter everywhere from a hospital to a home,” said Dr. Eleanor ‘Nora’ Campbell, Chair of the Lehman College Nursing Department. “The new technology and overall environment of the building creates an amazing space for learning complicated issues and gives students hands-on experiences they cannot get anywhere else.”

“The $95 million, 52,000-square foot NERPC houses classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, faculty offices, and support spaces for both undergraduate and graduate programs of the Department of Nursing. Urbahn and the engineering team designed the building and roofing to meet the sustainability and energy efficiency requirements of the New York City Climate Mobilization Act and New York City Local Laws 92 and 94,” shared Urbahn Architects Principal-in-Charge Natale V. Barranco, AIA, LEED AP.

“The new, five-story building is located on the campus mall, between Davis Hall to the north and Carman Hall to the south. The site presented a stylistically challenging architectural context with nearby structures showcasing varied architectural styling. Nearby Davis Hall, constructed in 1934, was designed in the traditional gothic revival style prevalent on university campuses at that time. Carman Hall was constructed in 1971 and has a minimalist poured concrete façade again typical of its era. Urbahn Architects created a new contemporary morphology for the NERPC façade that references design elements of both adjacent buildings, while creating a new, contemporary identity,” explained Urbahn Associate Bridgette van Sloun, RA, CPHC, WELL AP.

The new facility creates additional instruction and hands-on lab space to meet the growing need for healthcare workers. The Nursing Center will be the foundation for a rapid rise in enrollment to meet that need, especially for underserved communities in the Bronx and Westchester. The new center offers a simulated clinical environment for training students, equipped with:

  • Maternity, Pediatrics, ICU, and Medical Surgery Wards with 22 simulators;
  • Wet and Dry Research Labs;
  • Twenty-bed Nursing Skills Lab;
  • Computer Labs;
  • HyFlex Classrooms;
  • Activities of Daily Living Apartment;
  • Student Lounges and Social Spaces.

In addition to Principal-in-Charge Natale Barranco and Senior Associate, Bridgette van Sloun, Urbahn’s in-house design team also included Principal Architect Martin D. Stein, AIA, LEED AP; Associate and Project Manager Joseph Zappulla, CPHC and Associate and Designer Jonathan Ruiz. NERPC’s construction and design project team also included healthcare and laboratory design consultant HKS Architects, construction manager TDX Construction Corp., structural engineer LERA Consulting Structural Engineers, civil engineer Langan Engineering, MEP Engineer R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, excavation consultant FNA Engineering Services, environmental consultant YU & Associates, landscape architect Edgewater Design, lighting designer Domingo Gonzalez Associates, audio visual engineer Cerami Associates, Solar PV consultant Academy Energy Group, and elevator consultant AB Consulting.

Building Architecture and Exterior

Urbahn Architects developed the facade design and vocabulary to visually integrate NERPC with the adjacent Davis and Carman Halls. Davis Hall is clad in stone, while Carman Hall is composed primarily of exposed concrete with sections of aluminum storefront on the ground level. The NERPC façade incorporates concrete panels, stone, brick, and storefront. The exterior of the basement and the two stair towers is clad in brick to ground the building. On the first floor, a curtain wall storefront system echoes that of Carman Hall. Fiber-reinforced cement panels with punched windows create a rainscreen to enclose the 2nd and 3rd floors, referencing both the stone and concrete of the adjacent buildings.

The building is designed to meet New York City Climate Mobilization Act and Local Laws 92 and 94, which require components of buildings’ exterior envelopes and roofs to contribute to overall energy efficiency. All windows have double insulated glazing. A solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation system has been installed on the reflective SBS membrane system roof. Approximately 22% of the roof’s area is covered by PV panels that generate a total of 43.2 kW of power for the building, a tenfold increase of the law’s requirement of 4kW.

The site, which previously contained a one-story bookstore and a parking lot, presented significant design challenges. This portion of the Lehman campus was originally a part of the adjacent Jerome Park reservoir that was filled in with shot rock from the NYC subway construction in the early 1900s. The bearing strength of the soil is poor, and the depth of the bedrock varies between 20 to 60 feet over the site. During the initial phase of construction work, Citnalta’s construction crews installed over one hundred caissons with pile caps to support the foundation grade beams. The caissons are 10-inch reinforced steel cement with steel casing.

Most of the campus buildings have elevated entries averaging five to six feet above grade. The first-floor elevation of Carman Hall is seven feet above grade, and it is surrounded by a sunken plaza. The design team carefully coordinated the elevation of NERPC with the surrounding elements to create a cohesive plan. The basement level matches the elevation of Carman Hall’s sunken plaza.

A monumental entry plaza facing Campus Walk incorporates stairs and a ramp leading to both the first floor of NERPC and to the adjacent sunken plaza below. The designers incorporated linear lights into the undersides of stair handrails to add a dramatic lighting effect to the plaza and the entrance/Landscape architect Edgewater Designs has created a buffer of landscape material, including flowering trees and ground covers to soften the perimeter of the pavers and poured concrete surfaces of the access corridor and the sunken plaza.

Building Interiors

“Program development for NERPC was a six-month long collaborative effort between Urbahn Architects and Lehman College. The parameters set during the programming phase dictated the design of the five-story building, with integrated educational and public spaces. The building is designed to promote collaboration, with casual gathering areas to support learning beyond the classroom,” explained Urbahn’s Associate Joseph Zappulla, CPHC, who participated in the project’s conceptual design phase.

The cellar level is completely below grade and contains mechanical spaces housing air handling and heat recovery units, plumbing infrastructure, and telecommunications equipment.

The basement level is dedicated to hands-on nursing simulation (SIM), physical assessment, and nursing skills labs. HKS, a global leader in healthcare design, with a growing focus on interprofessional education and health sciences, designed the high-fidelity simulation suite, skills training labs, and graduate research labs.

“The high-fidelity simulation suite offers targeted clinical scenarios in a variety of immersive environments, utilizing a fully integrated simulation system and manikins from Laerdal Medical. The goal of immersive learning environments is to promote student success and improve local health outcomes,” said HKS Vice President and Senior Designer Jennifer McKeel, AIA, LEED AP, LSSYB.

SIM is the centerpiece of the lab space. It emulates a clinical environment, in which students will train for real-world situations ranging from labor and delivery, pediatrics and trauma treatment to adult intensive care and emergencies such as heart attacks. High-tech manikins are used to simulate relevant symptoms, and faculty has the ability to remotely monitor each student’s interaction with the simulated patients. Other labs include clinic-like settings for skills instruction, and a model apartment for home health care instruction. Mock patient beds are outfitted exactly as they would be in a clinical setting, including the use of compressed air to simulate oxygen and other medical gasses. This level is open to the sunken plaza along the south façade, while being fully below grade to the north, along the access corridor.

On the first floor, full-height glass along the north wall creates a welcoming entry into the building. According to Van Sloun, “The interior design employs biophilic concepts and materials to create a psychologically nurturing environment.” Interior finishes utilize natural materials and tones to create an earthy, soothing atmosphere, and this concept is most prevalent in the public spaces near the entry.

A wood panel feature wall faces the entrance. In an adjacent space, the student lounge is enclosed in a “glass box” that provides unobstructed views of the campus walk and athletic field. In the lounge, recessed seating nooks with upholstered benches is framed with wood paneling that matches that of the entry. Wood ceiling panels, some perforated for acoustical properties, extend through the lobby and lounge. An architectural stair, with wood treads, glass rails, and wood handrail, connects the lobby and the nursing suite in the lower level. A second student lounge with banquet seating and vending machines is also located on this level.

This floor also contains two 35-seat classrooms and a computer lab/learning and testing center, with a movable partition that can be opened to create one large room, if required during testing for a contiguous space for proctoring. Terrazzo flooring provides a durable decorative element in the main circulation spaces, while vinyl composition tile (VCT) is used in the instructional spaces.

The second floor contains six 25-seat classrooms and a faculty suite with private offices, desks for adjunct professors, and doctoral student workstations. Wet and dry research labs for use by the faculty are integrated into the area. All classrooms feature either smartboards or interactive projection screens, depending on the classrooms’ sizes. All classrooms are set up for HyFlex learning to allow for virtual and hybrid education. Corridors run east-west. Classrooms on both the first and second floors are located within the saw-tooth massing configuration on the south side of the corridor to maximize light penetration into the instructional spaces. This floor features and art installation by artist Nancy Blum, titled “Lotus Pond.”

Faculty spaces, including offices, a work room, a lounge and small conference areas for meetings with students occupy the third floor. The Department Chair’s office suite, including a large, 750-square foot conference room large enough to accommodate the entire staff, sits located directly above the building entrance at the northeast corner. Interior glazing throughout the suite allows for natural light to permeate into the corridor.

Wall finishes throughout the building are gypsum board painted in earth tones and soft colors to create a confortable ambiance. All spaces with the exception of the first-floor entrance lobby and student lounge have standard acoustic tile ceilings and VCT flooring.

NERPC has two stair towers. One, located in the southeast corner, extends from the basement to the roof. The second, intended to make an architectural statement and extending from the cellar to the third floor, protrudes out from the north façade and is encased in full glass between the first and third floors, offering a full view of Davis Hall from within the stairwell. The elevator bank is located in the center of the building.

Building Infrastructure

An existing utility tunnel spans the Davis and Carman Halls, at the level of NERPC’s cellar. The new building foundation bridges over the tunnel, so that no new loads are applied to its structure. Some of NERPC’s utilities, including heating and cooling, fire alarm, and fiber optics for both IT and building automation systems, tie into the central utilities in the tunnel. The basement floor is designed as a flat slab to maximize the clear height in the cellar to accommodate the mechanical equipment. A structure steel frame extends from the basement to the roof.

MEP systems were designed with sustainability goals in mind. The HVAC system for the NERCP is a variable air volume (VAV) with hot water reheat. According to David Pinto, PE, LEED AP, Mnaging Principal at R.G. Vanderweil Engineers, “The air handling unit located in the basement mechanical room includes two air tunnels and incorporates an energy recovery wheel, steam heating coils and chilled-water cooling coils. Air handling capacity is 50,000 cfm, with cooling capacity is 120 tons, 240 gpm chilled water.” Water conservation components include low flow urinals and water closets as well as 0.5 gpm lavatory faucets.

Energy efficient LED lighting fixtures are specified for all spaces. Recessed fixtures are used in the suspended ceilings in both classrooms and offices and architectural pendent fixtures in the entrance lobby and student lounge. Cove fixtures wash the walls of the circulation spaces with light.


About Lehman College

Lehman College of The City University of New York ranks among the top five institutions in the nation for fostering social mobility. A four-year Hispanic-Serving Institution in the Bronx, it offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs in the liberal arts, sciences, and professions. Across six schools, the College’s community-driven mission and notable academic programs attract a diverse enrollment of 13,000 students who take courses on a 37-acre, tree-lined campus and online. Thousands more community members benefit yearly from a variety of cultural, educational, health, and economic outreach programs and services that Lehman offers.

Urbahn Architects

Since its founding in 1945, Urbahn has designed projects for organizations and institutions that operate in the education, commercial real estate, public and governmental services, transportation, residential, healthcare, justice, science, hospitality, multi-family residential, and infrastructure sectors. The firm served as the architect for some of the nation’s most iconic structures, including the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Control at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, and the Fermi National Accelerator Lab in Batavia, IL. The total value of Urbahn’s current domestic and international projects exceeds $1 billion.

Headquartered in New York City, Urbahn operates a regional office in Jakarta, Indonesia focused on serving international clients. Building Design & Construction magazine ranks Urbahn as the 83rd largest architecture and planning firm overall, 36th largest government building designer, 21st largest designer of justice facilities, 48th largest hospitality designer, 99th largest designer of healthcare projects, and 104th largest university architect in the United States. Engineering News-Record New York magazine recognized the firm as the 2019 Design Firm of the Year.

Five principals lead the firm: Donald E. Henry, Jr., AIA, LEED AP; Natale V. Barranco, AIA, LEED AP; Martin D. Stein, AIA, LEED AP; Rafael Stein, AIA; and Ranabir Sengupta, AIA, LEED AP.

Urbahn’s recent higher education work includes the State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub in New Paltz, NY; Columbia University Baker Field Facilities Master Plan in New York, NY; The College of New Jersey Science Complex in Ewing, NJ; SUNY Stony Brook West Apartment Complex in Stony Brook, NY; Farmingdale State College School of Business and Broad Hollow Bioscience Park Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, NY; and Usha Martin University Master Plan in Ranchi, India.

Urbahn’s healthcare and laboratory portfolio includes the Stony Brook Medical Center Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program in Stony Brook, NY; Woodhull Medical Center Outposted Therapeutic Housing Units in Brooklyn, NY; Harborview Ambulatory Center Brooklyn Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY; and Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx, NY.

In addition to its vast U.S. project portfolio, Urbahn has worked as a planner and architect delivering healthcare and education facilities around the globe. In Africa, Urbahn led planning and design work for Somalia’s Lower and Middle Juba Regions’ Healthcare Delivery Planning Studies; Uganda Healthcare Delivery Planning Study; and Nigeria Primary Healthcare Delivery Study.

To learn more, please visit urbahn.com.

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