Alston Ridge Middle School

1262-01 Alston Ridge Middle School is the first build of a revised middle school prototype to be constructed in Cary, NC. This design features small learning communities centered around flexible collaborative space.  Included in the program is a dedicated theater for 525 students.  Good sight lines are achieved with a sloping floor and angled seating and acoustics are enhanced with sloped ceiling clouds and angled walls in addition to carefully placed acoustical panels.  The theater will be an important piece of the arts education program at Alston Ridge MS.  The 210,000SF school is designed for 1,311 students (traditional calendar) with 82 teaching spaces and includes a full-sized gym as well as a 2nd auxiliary gym.  Security features include clear circulation pathways with excellent visibility, vice-principal’s offices distributed on each floor level, and a main entry vestibule with bullet resistant glass, passing through the administrative area.  The classroom wing is oriented to face North & South to take advantage of the most consistent natural light and reduce energy usage.  The footprint is compact for a school of this size which will allow WCPSS to be able to fit the prototype on smaller sites in a county that is land starved due to its rapid growth.

Whitley Auditorium at Elon University

This is a project completed in 2001, but I wanted to show it here because of THIS great link for a 360-degree panorama of the finished project.


The renovation of the historic 1924 Whitley Auditorium at Elon University provides a much-used recital space for the Music Department as well as a multi-purpose space that is used for lectures, classes, as well as weekly church services.  The auditorium was renovated, new classical columns and scrolled brackets to support the balconies were added to cover existing steel columns, acoustical improvements were initiated, new handicapped accessible restroom facilities were carefully fit below the existing stairways, the lobby was extended and improved for better traffic flow and a more welcoming atmosphere, and refurbished vintage auditorium seating was installed.  A new state of the art HVAC system was designed to provide quiet temperature and humidity control for concert patrons and to maintain the tuning of the new Casavant Frères pipe organ.

Brad Farlow, Architect-of-Record (Eason & Farlow Design, PA)

Selecting and Siting K-12 Schools in a Community

"The traditional process of locating schools has consisted simply of mapping attendance areas and meeting with realtors to discuss and choose an available property. Today, however, due to a stronger understanding of the socioeconomic impacts of the development of schools on communities, there is a desire to explore a smarter approach to identify sites for schools. The objective of this essay is to provide a comprehensive, long-term strategic approach for siting schools in growing communities. Now that we have a stronger understanding of the socioeconomic impacts of development on communities, we want to explore a smarter approach to identifying sites for schools. This paper is focused on a comprehensive long term strategic approach to identifying sites for schools in growing communities."

Excerpt  from"Selecting and Siting K-12 Schools in a Community" White Paper By David Henebry, AIA NCARB ALEP publisher:  Education Facilities Clearinghouse

Click HERE for a link to download the entire White Paper By David Henebry, AIA NCARB ALEP


Wilson Community Health Center wins Design Award from American Institute of Architects-NC Eastern Section

Wilson Community Health Center, designed by Skinner Lamm & Highsmith Architects has won a Design Award in the Service Category from American Institute of Architects-NC Eastern Section.  "This modest yet iconic building provides critical health services to three counties.  It considers the existing context and accommodates the growing spacial needs of the existing facility." Jury comments from 2016 AIA NC Eastern Section Service Awards

The clinic’s success facilitated the need to expand.  More parking, a covered drop-off, additional office space, a larger pharmacy, and a more spacious waiting room were needed.  We maintained the design attributes of the original structure including the playful placement of punched openings, use of scored block and metal panels.  Utilizing additional properties adjacent to the original clinic, the main entrance was relocated to the new building where parking was also added.  The building angles in deference to the main train line that separates downtown Wilson from the residential area to the East allowing maximum space for parking.


We designed the original Wilson Community Health Center clinic building that was completed in 2005.  This facility won a merit award from the Eastern Section of the NCAIA in 2006. The current project for the addition and renovation was completed in 2015.  The finished facility is 31,461 SF with 17,775 SF being new construction.  The 2005 clinic building was also renovated (4,523 SF).


This building had to be designed in a way that allows full use of the facility during construction of the new building.  Careful site placement and building configuration facilitate a functional flow of patients as well as security for staff.  The pharmacy is strategically placed to allow it to function independently for staff and very conveniently for patients.

The new 2-story addition is constructed from load bearing masonry walls with bar joists supporting a concrete deck.  The rooftop mechanical unit is concealed from view by an extension of the metal panels.  The connection between existing and new construction was kept small to minimized shoring of the existing structure.

The site is located at a junction between a residential district where many of the clinics patrons reside and Wilson’s downtown /warehouse district.  It is surrounded by urban streets on all 4 sides and is bounded by the main rail line to the southeast.  The train station is located to the south of the site and to the north is the Old Wilson Historic District.


Sustainable features include locating the building on a dense urban site that was previously developed and is very well connected to the community that it serves by walking, bicycling, and public transportation.  The site features water efficient landscaping and the impervious area was actually decreased with the addition.  Windows provide natural light and views while an energy efficient mechanical and lighting system were employed.  A large portion of the exterior is covered with metal panels that have a very high recycled content.

Thomas Sayre Sculpture

The new exterior sculpture by Thomas Sayre was installed last week at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church. It serves as a welcoming beacon to the new addition by Skinner Lamm & Highsmith Architects.

Revolutions in Learning - A4LE Conference in Philadelphia, PA

conference-header2 David Henebry, AIA, ALEP attended the A4LE Annual Conference in Philadelphia from Sept 28-Oct 1, 2016. The conference was titled “Revolutions in Learning”. While there David was able to meet some of the finalists for the MacConnell Award. After spending substantial hours as a juror reviewing the great submissions, he was interested to hear the Architects talk about their projects. The finalists included Robert R. Shaw Center for S.T.E.A.M by Stantec, Cherry Crest Elementary by NAC and the winning submission Fairchild High School by JCJ Architecture. The community commitment to construct a pure project based lab school in the center of their community to be accessible by all of the schools in the Katy Texas school District was extremely impressive. The students arrive early and have to be chased out in the late evening 7 days a week, demonstrating student engagement at levels most communities would envy. The Cherry Crest Elementary in Bellevue Washington captured the spirit of the natural surroundings and has taken outdoor learning to new levels. The interplay and connectivity to the outdoors along with the project based learning studios on the interior of the school provide for very pleasant and engaged learning. Cherry Crest also did an exceptional job of integrating solar and other green features into the building as teaching opportunities. The MacConnell Award winner is a great community story. It was a 10-year journey for a new High School in the poorest district in Connecticut. The STEM High School has 3 themed academy learning communities. Information Technology and Software Engineering, Biotechnology Research and Zoological Sciences and Aerospace/Hydrospace Engineering and Physical Sciences comprise 3 distinct academies of choice for students. The students are also allowed to switch academies. The 3 academies are broken up into 6 collaborative/flexible learning suites. Along with using the outdoor wooded area as a natural learning lab they maintain a bee hive on the green roofs. Of all of the sustainable features are integrated into the curriculum. They have both solar and wind green power features integrated and expressed in the architecture. Though the most impressive statistic was improving the graduation rate from 65% - 98%!

Preservation NC's Annual Conference in Greensboro

Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources speaking about historic preservation in North Carolina and the importance of NC’s preservation tax credits. The venue is the Pfeiffer Chapel at Bennett Chapel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in 1958.

Poulnabrone dolmen portal tomb

Poulnabrone dolmen portal tomb in County Claire, Ireland was one of the most amazing places we visited on our trip to Ireland & Scotland. It is unbelievable to stand in front of something that is 6,000 years old and is one of humanity's first architectural creations that was not designed for protection against the weather.

We're all together in Raleigh now!

301 Glenwood Ave We have consolidated our offices to our Raleigh location at 301 Glenwood Avenue! Since opening our Raleigh office in 2007 we have worked very closely with everyone in our Wilson office.  Now that we are all under one roof, we are enjoying the face to face collaboration and comradery.  We anticipate the consolidation will allow us to serve our clients even better than before!

Please note we have a new phone number.

301 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 270 Raleigh, NC 27603 984-222-0572 F  919-863-9980

What's Important in the Design of a Cancer Center

1194-01 A modern cancer center is a place where people go to fight for their lives. Health care providers, using the latest scientific discoveries, aid in that battle. By its very function, a cancer center is a stressful place. It is also high tech place. Some patients may be comforted by technology, but others are frightened by that same technology. For an architect, designing such a place is a balancing act.

Patients and family members are going through one of the most stressful times of their lives. Even for physicians and caregivers, this is a tension filled workplace. Just as the Hippocratic Oath states to do no harm, the building should not add to the patients stress level. Experientially, the building should do all it can to have a calming influence. What are some ways as an architect, we can help reduce anxiety?

  1. Provide clear circulation patterns so that a patient knows where they are going and where they have been. This can be especially difficult if the facility is located within an existing building that has changed over time and has circulation patterns that are circuitous and maze-like. Provide queues to where a patient is within the facility but providing views to the outside as much as possible. If you can’t look out windows, provide other queues such as clerestory, skylights, or use colors or floor patterns. Provide views back to waiting areas or entrance points.

    Lobby Looking Toward Reception

  2. Address all the senses
    • Acoustics – reduce unwanted noise, consider acoustics as it relates to patient privacy, provide soothing music, etc.
    • Lighting – provide non-glare producing fixtures, soft light, and warm colors – only use light sources that have a high color rendering index (CRI). Consider using full spectrum LED lighting in treatment areas to provide a calming effect.
    • Natural daylight that is shielded and non-direct is the best light
    • Use harmonious color schemes
    • Provide good temperature and humidity comfort
    • Use comfortable surfaces, fabrics, furnishings, etc.
    • Provide places to get a snack, a drink, or even a meal
    • Provide fresh air flowing in a way that removes odors as patients are especially sensitive during treatment
  3. Meditation Room, Quiet Room or Chapel
    • People are different in the way they handle stress and grieving so provide a variety of quiet spaces where people can be alone or with others, outside or inside, introspective or as a part of a formal service or a class
    • Any chapel space should be non-denominational
    • Make this space flexible so it can be used for a variety of uses
  4. Provide Patient & Family Resource Areas
    • Provide printed materials, computer & network access, places to read, places for classes and small consultation areas
    • Again a variety of types of spaces is most useful
  5. Make the treatment areas very functional. Study patient flow, treatment times and numbers of patients seen daily and make the build flow in a way that keeps treatments smooth, efficient and calm. One way this might be accomplished is by providing a separate circulation area for physicians, nurses, and staff, so that they can easily flow in and out of treatment & consultation areas without distractions between patients.

As with any project, an architect has to do their best to empathize with all the buildings users. The more we can do this, the more successful our projects will be.

Medical Education Center in Lumberton: Partnership between Southeastern Health & Campbell University

Here are some new photos of Southeastern Health's newly-renovated, 10,000 sf space for Medical Education.  Located on the 4th floor of the administrative wing in the medical center, the space is the education hub for Southeastern Health. Offering student lockers, a 100-seat classroom, a small classroom, an electronic medical library, a resident/student lounge and meeting room, as well as administrative offices for the Medical Education department. This space is being used in a partnership between Southeastern Health and Campbell University.  Click HERE and HERE to learn more. The education wing was made possible through grants from The Duke Endowment, The Golden LEAF Foundation, North Carolina Department of Commerce, and The Cannon Foundation.