USC Health Center


Create better work experiences in a post-COVID world. Explore our interior solutions today. 

Learn More »


USC Health Center

University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Read More
Joel Lounge Chairs by Coalesse and Circa Lounge Seating by CoalesseAnswer Systems Furniture by Steelcase

USC Health Center
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC

Service-Lines: Furniture, A/V

Products Used: Steelcase, Coalesse

The University of South Carolina wanted to create a space that both encouraged health and provided a relaxing, stress-free place for students to hang out. Extensive research from the executive director of Student Health Services, Dr. Debbie Beck, helped create a plan that would incorporate soothing colors and elements of nature throughout the building. 

McWaters would be responsible for coordinating with Perkins + Will, a Chicago-based design firm that USC had contracted with and completing the project on a tight deadline. 

McWaters worked together with Perkins + Will choosing ergonomic furniture and finishes that would help carry the color and nature themes through each floor of the building. 

"McWaters helped us create solutions that maintained the high expectations of the client, in addition to an amazing space for the students that promote 'Healthy Carolina' and hanging out and studying," said Lara Lara Leskaj, Senior Interior Project Designer & Associate Principal, Perkins + Will.

Campfire Big Table by Turnstone with Scoop Stools by Turnstone

Project Scope

Working with an outside designer

McWaters needed to implement the design vision of both Dr. Beck and Chicago-based firm Perkins + Will. The team would work closely with a single point of contact to ensure all the furniture and finishings met both the design vision and created a cohesive feel throughout the building. 

Getting a LEED Certification

In addition to having a very specific, research-backed vision for the health center, USC also wanted the building to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for Gold certification. Gold is the second highest level of certification and is designed to create electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions, and provide a healthier environment for those who use the building. 


Answer Freestanding Desks by Steelcase Image 1Answer Freestanding Desks by Steelcase Image 2


Putting on the finishing touches

The health center is made up of five floors and includes spaces that vary from private offices to exam rooms to demonstration kitchens. This meant it would be a challenge to create a cohesive feeling, but it was a challenge the McWaters team accepted happily. 

"Working on this project was both fun and interesting because there were so many different types of rooms to layout and design," said Bobby Nunn. 

McWaters' solution was to use the finishes to tie each room together in a way that made sense. The finishes also matched the building's yellow, green and blue color palette, all of which have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety. 

Creating a space for health 

Even though the space is designed primarily for students, USC wanted to make sure their staff would be able to work in a place that promotes health. In addition to all the nature-inspired touches throughout the office, McWaters was also able to provide Steelcase Ology Height Adjustable Desks for all the private offices.

Steelcase research has shown that taking breaks from sitting all day can help improve focus, engagement, and wellness. The standing desks allow employees to take a stand without having to shift to a different workspace. 

McWaters wanted to incorporate the desks into the storage units in the office but weren't able to find anything that matched perfectly. So, they created a special storage unit to conceal one leg of the desk to create a clean look that blended with the rest of the building's aesthetic. 

In order to create a calmer work environment, McWaters also installed a sound masking system in the workspaces that would hide background noise and allow employees to collaborate without interrupting others. 

Being flexible 

McWaters had the opportunity to show off their adaptability when they were thrown a curveball in the installation process.

Once the team got into the finished building and saw an angled beam running through one of the offices. The beam hadn't been in the sketches they had seen, so the team had to get creative--and fast. In the end, they came up with a completely different configuration for installing the furniture that allowed them to work the beam into the layout. 

Have several distinct uses for your space? Need to create a space that promotes health and wellness? See what the McWaters team can do for you. 

Contact Us


Deborah Beck, MPA, Ed.D
Executive Director of Student Health Services
and her staff

Design Partner: Lara Leskaj, LEED AP, Senior Interior Project Designer & Associate Principal, Perkins + Will

Contractor Partner: Paul Miller, General Contractor, Rogers Builders

McWaters Team

Bobby Nunn, VP State/Federal Sales
Sarah Hemhauser, Interior Designer
Chris Coates, Director of Operations