When theUniversity of Mississippiexpanded its Medical Center’s campus in Jackson, MS, the plan was to build a 192,000-square-foot research laboratory beside an existing 80,000-square-foot facility. Having these two structures that serve the same purpose to the campus side-by-side seemed natural, but what was more natural was connecting the two facilities. Now, at the end of the expansion, there is an eight-story atrium that unifies the campus’ new structure with its old.

The atrium, which features “communicating” lobby staircases connecting the two buildings on all levels, was designed by Joe Stevens of Eley Guild Hardy Architects in Jackson, MS. Stepping inside, occupants of the campus are enticed by an intriguing pattern of staircases and open floors that are contrasted with a marble and mosaic feature on the walls. “A feature wall of the atrium is clad in stone with mosaic tile as a recessed accent,” said Stevens. “The mosaic tile had the grout joints omitted to create a deep shadow effect emphasizing the horizontal pattern. The stone and tile were used as counterpoint materials to the brick, terrazzo and glass of the atrium.”

On the walls, there are large Crema Dorado marble panels of 3 x 4 feet and 3 x 6 ½ feet that border the recessed mosaic tiles. The mosaic tiles were from Marazzi’s “Percos” Collection, which are a through-body porcelain mesh-mounted mosaic. The tile of the mosaic varied in heights from 3/8  to ¾ inch. The lengths varied with each piece. “They were selected as compatible finishes to other atrium materials,” said Stevens of the design choices. “The stone and tile were our first choice.”

With the project being an eight-story atrium, there definitely were some unique parameters that posed a bit of a challenge. But this was a challenge with an easy fix. “Full-height scaffolding was utilized,” said Stevens.

As another school year begins, the research investigators and assistants of the University of Mississippi are filling the laboratories of both buildings and the atrium is in full use. Stevens said of the finished atrium, “It has been very well received by the building occupants and the Medical Center campus in general.”