$76M new nursing, social work building approved for UTA

The University of Texas at Arlington received approval on Nov. 19 for its design plans and funding of a new building that will house both the School of Social Work and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s SMART hospital.

The 150,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost $76 million, with construction beginning in 2021. The new building will be a mix of flexible, state-of-the-art, technology-enriched learning spaces; teaching and research labs; simulation learning center; student engagement, study and support spaces; and faculty and staff offices. Smith Group is the Project Architect, and Turner Construction is the contractor.

According to the board documents, the building should be completed by November 2022. Board documents also indicate that the plan is to increase enrollment in each program 5% per year by 2025 and increase research expenditures in each program 5%-10% per year by 2030.

Once built, the facility will create a new Health Sciences Quad on the UTA campus, adjacent to the Science & Engineering Innovation & Research (SEIR) building, Life Science building, and Pickard Hall, home of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI).

Pairing the SMART Hospital with the School of Social Work under one roof will foster collaboration and enable a more holistic approach to human wellness for both academic units, according to a UTA spokesman.

Since 2013, UTA has seen an overall enrollment growth rate of 21%. Similarly, the School of Social Work and the College of Nursing and Health Innovation have experienced significant growth, necessitating expansion of campus infrastructure to accommodate their increased enrollment and educational needs.

As the No. 1 producer of nurses in Texas and one of the largest nursing programs in the nation, CoNHI is leading the charge to address Texas’ critical shortage of highly qualified nursing graduates, according to the spokesman. Though intended as a temporary space, the current Smart Hospital has served the college for more than 12 years, enabling CoNHI students to participate in critical simulation-based learning activities that prepare them for the workforce.

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The School of Social Work trains social advocates who have made millions of lives better through awareness, education, interdisciplinary research, and evidence-based clinical practice, the spokesman said. The current social work building no longer meets the demands of the growth of the college and is cost-prohibitive to renovate in a manner that provides the required classrooms, laboratories and collaborative spaces.