As one of the nation’s premier engineering schools, NC State is a powerful driver of economic impact in North Carolina and beyond, with graduates dominating the state’s highly skilled workforce at companies including Cree, SAS, and IBM. In the past 10 years, engineering undergraduate enrollment at NC State has grown by 22 percent, and graduate enrollment has more than doubled. The new Fitts-Woolard Hall will provide an innovative facility to help accommodate that growth and further position NC State University as an international leader in engineering education.
Fitts-Woolard Hall marks the culmination of the College of Engineering’s move to the oval on Centennial Campus. The facility will join Engineering Buildings I, II, and III on this unique campus that blends education, research, industry, government, and community spaces. Clark Nexsen partnered with NC State to develop a dynamic, state-of-the-art facility centered on goals to promote interaction and collaboration between students, faculty, and individual engineering departments. Accommodating The Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, and a portion of the College of Engineering Dean Administration, the new Fitts-Woolard Hall will have proximity to eight additional University engineering departments. The opportunity for convergence across disciplines is intended to foster an environment of innovation.
The design is driven by a commitment to “engineering on display.” Throughout the four-story facility, high degrees of transparency create a light-filled, vibrant education environment. The main entry is flanked by a large structural testing lab, senior student project space, and large scale driving simulator, all which are visible to both the exterior and interior of the building. The transparency into these spaces offers drivers, pedestrians, and building users a glimpse into the cutting-edge research and education occurring within.
Stairs at each end of the building act as connecting threads between floors and reveal the building’s structural and mechanical systems as an additional instructional tool. Each teaching and research space supports initiatives critical to the global high-tech economy, including advanced manufacturing, bioengineering, ergonomics, robotics and sensor technology, transportation and logistics, and environmental. Complementing the state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, the design promotes socialization and interaction between students through gathering spaces including an outdoor terrace, interspersed seating, and an open, collaborative space on the second floor known as “the hearth.”
The third and fourth floors are contained in a striking floating volume, supported by expressive gestural columns that are reminiscent of the structural and civil disciplines. These floors house faculty offices, graduate student space, and additional classrooms and research labs. While smaller scale, goals for daylighting and transparency remain evident in these environments, with faculty offices featuring glass walls and an open office concept utilized for graduate student spaces. Consistent with the first and second floors, the design focuses on inspiring collaboration and innovation through glimpses into high-tech lab environments.
Fitts-Woolard Hall is reflective of NC State’s mission to promote an integrated approach to problem solving and their commitment to excellence in education. As demand for engineering and computer science degrees continues to rise, Fitts-Woolard Hall will play a key role in recruiting the best and brightest engineering students and producing tomorrow’s industry leaders.