The suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah may not conjure up thoughts of cutting-edge, high-tech buildings; however, with the new 85,000 SF Michael J. Bouwhuis Allied Health Building at Davis Technical College in Kaysville, that idea has become a reality. The facility houses state of-the-art nurse training programs including CNA, nursing, and medical assisting, as well as surgical technology, radiology technician, and medical office administration. Dental assisting, pharmacy technician, and EMT/firefighter programs are also included to meet the growing demands of the college’s allied health programs.

A dream nearly 10 years in the making, the Michael J. Bouwhuis Allied Health Building had a bold vision—which never comes easy. The project team, from Layton Construction, to Method Studio, to the many other project partners, put their heads together to solve challenges to ensure the project lived up to its exciting promise.

A design that “works.” As a place of learning, the overarching goals of the building’s design were to support career-making education and put the school’s learning experience on display. The design team incorporated staff input throughout the design phase to ensure the space met their needs from day one, which ultimately saved time and costs. The Layton team also installed wood-shrouded glass walls in the main lobby to frame the labs so students and visitors passing by can experience the “learning on display”.

Natural connection. Surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains and Great Salt Lake, the building also includes a connection to nature. Every aspect of the design reinforces life-enhancing, healing spaces to enliven the spirit and enhance learning. With this, the lobby has access to views from the east, south, and west surrounding areas while the labs and classrooms have key views and natural light throughout the building that draw deep into the facility. An exterior “fin” element cutout was also included by the design team to allow a unique focus on the Great Salt Lake. Abundant natural light—provided through precise building siting and skylights—also helps students study and retain information while in the facility.

A tight fit. During construction, the team encountered a tight lobby install of the precast lobby treads. To solve the issue, they decided to utilize a spider crane, which allowed them access through the main entrance and the ability to still work in a tight area. Moreover, the landings were too heavy for the crane, so the team decided the best course of action was to cut them in half—which ultimately resulted in completing the task in two days.

Real-life support. As a technical college, Davis Tech aims to ensure its students have realistic work experience as they learn. Therefore, the building’s simulation spaces needed to be configured to recreate that real-life experience as closely as possible. The project team dug into the research of similar spaces, including team trips to other simulation labs and to state-of-the-art hospitals to study how those facilities function.

“The entire project team visited high-tech hospitals that had the same technology we were trying to implement at Davis Technical College,” says Layton project manager Brian McBeth. “Staff at these hospitals cautioned us about the difficulties of putting such a facility together. The team conducted extensive research and collaborated from start to finish, allowing us to successfully provide the school with the cutting-edge space they asked for.”

Specialized equipment. Purchasing new state-of-the-art equipment online required collaboration with the owner and the purchasing manager so the labs functioned properly with varying pieces of equipment, some highly complex, purchased through different vendors. “The team and I were tasked with a tall order in ensuring the equipment would meet the functionality goals of the college,” McBeth says. “It wasn’t an easy task coordinating the requirements of the various pieces of equipment that have to work together through several different vendors, but I am proud to say that our amazing project team made it happen.”

Thanks to the extensive research and teamwork in ensuring the facility has the most up-to-date and realistic lab and classroom experiences, Davis Tech’s students receive the most relevant education for their field. Upon graduating, they can immediately contribute to society as a highly skilled workforce, which benefits everyone in the community.