The Marv Nelson Science Learning Center meets increasing demand for science and health sciences programs with a design that celebrates education and sustainability. The challenge was to design science labs, which commonly are energy-intensive, that could operate sustainably. The solution combines simple building organization with innovative systems, featuring the labs ASSOCIATED FIRMS.M. Stemper Architects, Architect of RecordCAPACITY850COST PER SQ FT$283.78FEATURED IN2008 Architectural Portfolio the sustainable heart of the building.
A three-story building minimizes the footprint and preserves woodlands. Classroom wings bookend the labs, which are stacked in ascending order of complexity—an elegant arrangement that enables the labs to share utilities.
The building engages visitors with science as they walk through the door. Design elements convey principles of physics, geology, meteorology and botany, and an energy-monitoring system analyzes and displays the building’s resource consumption on green touchscreen kiosks.
The Learning Center immerses students and staff in an arboreal campus experience. Extensive glazing and thoughtful building orientation imbue the center with daylight and connection to the surrounding forest. The result is a rich learning experience that links academic concepts to their physical manifestations just outside the window.