UNC/ECSU School of Pharmacy
March 14, 2013
Client: Elizabeth City State University
Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Lead Architect: Freelon
Square Footage: 55,500
Role this firm played in the project: Architect of Record and Design Architect
Totaling 55,500 gsf, the three-story Elizabeth City State University School of Pharmacy is located on the western edge of the university’s North Campus. Home to the new Doctor of Pharmacy Partnership Program, which serves both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Elizabeth City State University, this facility provides its students and faculty with state-of-the-art distance learning classrooms, teaching labs, and research space.
The design of this building exterior is inspired by the historical Apothecary’s chest, where pharmacists categorized and quantified the elements used in their medicines. The regular grid formed by the chest’s compartmentalization is expressed through the modularity of the building’s façades.
Responding to its narrow triangular site, the building’s design consists of two linear program bars – the west bar which houses faculty offices, classrooms, and conference rooms, and the east which contains the labs and large classrooms. The cant of the western façade references the angle of the existing adjacent Hoffler Street, while the rectilinearity of the eastern façade follows the pre-established grid of the campus. The two sides of the building merge at the building’s south end to create an intimate, double-height atrium where students and faculty gather and interact.
The two sides of the building react to their respective contexts; the western side’s design is tied to its external identity, facing the adjacent residential community, while the eastern side is influenced by its surrounding university campus. Engaging with the language of the residential neighborhood that lies across Hoffler Street, the western side of the building is designed as a contemporary porch through the creation of shaded exterior space and use of light-screening materials. The faculty offices which occupy this portion of the building are characterized by transparent glazing, allowing for ample natural light during the day. Because the western “bar” forms an external edge of the campus, the transparency allows the building to serve as a sleek public landmark for the Pharmacy School and the University by day and a glowing icon by night. The eastern side of the building, which houses the labs, is contrastingly opaque, controlling the light levels through narrow horizontal windows to create appropriate lab conditions. The solid rendering of the more-internal, campus-facing facade echoes the vernacular of the existing construction that surrounds it and, in doing so, integrates the building into its larger university context. Becoming the nexus for these two distinct identities, the Pharmacy Building resolves the external and internal by uniting them into a single, cohesive entity.