Science Atrium
Atrium to provide symbolic, tangible hub of sciences-education complex

An atrium will soar to the top of the four-story sciences complex, connecting new construction with a renovated Piez Hall and helping connect the new complex—symbolically and practically—with the School of Education in Wilber and Park halls.

Artistic rendering of science atrium.The atrium’s design literally is the hub of the $110 million to $120 million series of projects.

Tom Simmonds, co-chair of the Campus Concept committee, points out that the mission statement for the sciences complex uses phrases like “culture of collaboration,” “open and appealing venue,” “spaces for informal interactions” and “display the results and consequences of scientific activity.”

The atrium, then, is more than the sum of its parts, which include a cafe, a new planetarium above the cafe, spaces for open programming and informal meetings, and a way to connect corridors that continue the Campus Center’s pedestrian spine concept. The atrium is the defining heart of the close tie between sciences and education.

“The whole atrium is really going to be a showpiece for the sciences and for science education,” said John Moore, director of facilities design and construction.

Collaborative labs

Casey Raymond, assistant professor of chemistry and chair of the sciences planning committee, welcomes the collaborative opportunities. He is particularly pleased sciences will come together under one roof.

“For most of the programs, this is the first time we have been able to design teaching laboratories for our disciplines,” Raymond said.

He pointed out that the sciences complex and Wilber Hall will connect at ground level. The connection, to be completed during the renovation of Wilber and Park halls, will house part of elementary education and “will contain windows to allow anyone to see what is happening in those classes.”

Moore said sustainability is all part of a modern science education, and the complex will be a living laboratory of state-of-the-art ways to lower dependency on fossil fuels, from alternative energy systems to construction materials. For example, the roof of the sciences complex will include a solar array to feed a photovoltaic module of the electrical power system.

PHOTO CAPTION: Future atrium—An architect’s rendering of the atrium in the new sciences complex—construction starts in earnest this summer with a planned completion of fall 2013—shows it as the symbolic and practical hub of collaboration among the sciences and with the School of Education.

(Posted: Apr 12, 2010)