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College of Environment and Design

Students Design Wellness Courtyard Adjacent to University Health Center

Donnie Longnecker with students from his summer studio class


What better way to teach campus design than finding a site right on student’s stomping grounds? 

That is exactly what second-year design students of Donnie Longenecker did in his summer studio. Students were tasked with envisioning an outdoor wellness courtyard adjacent to the University Health Center. While the designs vary by student, they all focus on fostering community and providing tranquility to the many visitors of south campus.  

Jennifer Swails, the director of finance and support services at the University Health Center, shared her excitement in collaborating with budding landscape architects to see what they could produce for the UHC outdoor space. She framed their work in her initial Vision of the space as a refresh for students and employees to come and find peace in their busy day. Whether this was a quiet spot to eat lunch or take a quick stroll, the space is to focus on the entire well-being of an individual.  

In their initial design process, students visited the site to draft a site analysis, which allowed them to create functional diagrams and explore different layout principles. Proposed program elements of the outdoor wellness center include water features, eating pavilions, walking loops, fitness stations, and art installations. Students explored how their site amenities could provide screening, sound, and shade. Each design aimed to create a unique sense of place. Furthering their designs, students built and rendered computer generated 3D models to visualize how their design would look.  


Model Rendering of Wellness Courtyard


These designs came to fruition when students got to present their work to employees of the University Health Center. Swails was pleased to see how creative each of the students got with ways to better utilize the space. UHC employees loved getting to see the thoughtfulness behind the student's design development process. Swails plans to use the site plans as basis for future renovation of the site.  

Molly Hatcher, second-year design student, recollected on her experience, stating, “the UHC summer project taught me a lot about using my knowledge of landscape design to solve real world problems. Working with and talking to the people we were designing for helped me understand that our designs are bigger than us and can perhaps change lives.” 


Process Graphics for Wellness Center

Wellness courtyard Master Plan

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