Suffolk County Community College, Life Sciences Building

Selden, New York

Suffolk County Community College has experienced significant enrollment growth. Relocating its life-sciences program into appropriately sized new construction will make existing space available for other programs. The college provided a program, site and maximum project cost as part of a design competition in late 2009. Interest was expressed in ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMTsoi/Kobus & AssociatesCOST PER SQ FT$389.00FEATURED IN2010 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYWork in Progress "flagship" building that would attract students and express the life sciences.

This is the winning design, intended to achieve LEED gold certification. The building will serve its program and contribute to the overall campus experience.

Conceptually, the building attempts to express the relationship of node and connection in the context of a system, or plexus. The building is both node and plexus, relative to the campus and internally to itself. The physical building concept is fundamentally sustainable; the east-west orientation minimizes summer solar heat gain, the integration into the land contours reduces the exterior surface area, and the overall space efficiency minimizes the material and construction resources.

Mechanical criteria and systems are designed to challenge conventional principles and provide what is truly needed for safe and functional operation. The expansive south facade wall has been designed to harvest solar energy, modulate sunlight and provide expansive views to the southern horizon.

The site has been developed as an educational tool representing local ecological environments. The building mitigates handicapped-accessible pedestrian movement from parking areas to the south and pedestrian walkways to other campus buildings to the north. A central lobby connects its three levels and becomes the focal point for building circulation. It provides direct access to a greenhouse, Biology Learning Center and indoor amphitheater cut into the natural slope.

The axial center of the building is occupied by the main passenger elevator, with interactive computer kiosks for students and faculty to interact with the building, campus and beyond. Building system diagnostics will be displayed.

Terra cotta panels have been chosen to convey a sense of "earthen" physicality to the exterior. This also relates to the brick of existing campus buildings. Other major exterior materials include extruded aluminum and glass.

Laboratory spaces are designed using modular planning principles; each space essentially is the same size to enable flexibility in layout and lab furniture components. Work surfaces are movable to enable either bench use or floor-mounted equipment, with fixed functions such as sinks and fume hoods typically situated at the perimeter.

Mechanical systems are sized to provide appropriate air changes for biology labs throughout the several life-science disciplines, and high air-change-rate ventilation is limited to the chemistry and anatomy labs.

This building will represent the first new building at the Ammerman campus to be constructed in more than 40 years. It will serve as a functional, contextual, sustainable and inspirational structure for the college for years to come.