Faculty and staff have moved in and classes are taking place in Peterson Family Health Sciences Hall, the new home of George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services . The $71 million, 165,000-square-foot facility gathers all the college’s academic programs under one roof for the first time.
Peterson Hall has a powerful presence on Mason’s Fairfax Campus, says Dean Germaine Louis, adding that its sleek contemporary architecture sets the stage for an exceedingly bright future.
“The building is an investment in people—those who will work and learn in it, as well as the many people who will be helped by the college’s faculty and graduates,” she says. “This building signifies innovative thinking, discovery, and service, as well as ensuring students have lifelong skills to advance health for all populations.”
The building was made possible with funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, private philanthropy, and an $8 million gift from the Peterson family, who are longtime Mason benefactors.
Designed by Perkins Eastman and constructed by Whiting Turner, Peterson Hall is the largest building on the Fairfax Campus. It includes a nutrition kitchen, classrooms, offices, an outdoor amphitheater, and numerous labs to facilitate hands-on learning and research to advance health for all people.
The state-of-the-art nutrition kitchen for the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies has six cooking islands, each accommodating four students, and audiovisual capabilities to enhance teaching demonstrations. This innovative teaching lab was made possible through the generous support of Camille T. Barry, MSN ’86, DNSC ’89.
“Even though my education was in nursing, I chose to name the nutrition kitchen because healthy eating is an integral part of my lifestyle,” says Barry. “Studying nutrition will be beneficial to many students. I’m thrilled that my gift will be able to impact students for generations to come.”
The School of Nursing  has new state-of-the-art simulation and assessment labs, which allow for hands-on learning for students. Two cameras are stationed over the beds where the patient simulators are located, so the students’ work can be recorded and reviewed later with the student.
The Department of Rehabilitation Science’s  Functional Performance Lab features a raised platform with special plates in the floor that can detect the force used to take a step and cameras that can capture the movements when a patient is standing or walking wearing sensors. The new facility will allow researchers to conduct large clinical exercise intervention studies on-site, adding to their current capabilities to evaluate movement and function.
The Health Informatics Learning Lab, known as the HILL, is where researchers conduct data mining from health records and predictive analysis. The lab meets HIPAA requirements for data storage, providing Mason with the ability to conduct research using electronic health records. (See story on page xx for more information.)
While the interior of Peterson Hall is a hub for research and health education, the exterior features inviting gathering spaces are meant to bring together the Mason community. The expansive courtyard space features the Marcia and Tony Di Trapani Rain Garden and an amphitheater that will be used for student and community events, gatherings and innovative learning opportunities.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our many partners while forging new ones, in promoting the health and well-being of the many populations we serve,” says Louis. “What also remains is our commitment to teaching excellence and producing career-ready graduates. It is a central part of our mission, and we will bring more opportunities for innovation into the classroom.”