We are pleased to announce Lafayette College’s Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center has been honored with a 2021 AIA Education Facility Design Award in the category of Excellence. This award highlights projects that showcase innovation across the entire learning continuum, displaying how architects are creating cutting edge spaces that enhance modern pedagogy.
The new Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center was intentionally designed to spark and strengthen interdisciplinary connections, a distinctive feature of this College’s educational mission. With outdated facilities and growing demand in the sciences, the College needed significantly improved spaces for multidisciplinary science with a student body slated to expand by over 20% in the coming years. The building also needed to showcase the College’s commitment to fostering a community of interdisciplinary undergraduate teaching and research across both the sciences and liberal arts. A primary objective for this project was to seek a way to add this significant new science/engineering facility within the heart of campus without overwhelming the delicate scale and charming character of this cherished campus.
Envisioned as a vertically connected walk-up science community, the new science center uses a steeply sloping site to conceal the large program within the historic brick fabric of the existing courtyard. The design solution takes full advantage of the topography of the site by building much of its bulk down the steep slope. With only three floors above grade, the design solution hides much of the 103,000 SF volume down the hill to fit the existing context both in scale and materiality of the neighboring buildings. A continuous four-story “vertical commons” with a monumental stair at the heart vertically links the academic programs and campus community spaces within. Two landscaped courtyards on different levels, a spatially dynamic atrium and informal student spaces of varying size and location make the building a destination for the sciences and the larger campus community.
Providing new departmental homes for biology and computer science, the integrated science center includes teaching labs, research labs, support spaces, offices, a rooftop greenhouse and animal facility. The building’s interdisciplinary identity is supported by the centrally located areas for STEM leadership, the Office of Sustainability, Environmental Science and Studies and Neuroscience.
All photos © Robert Benson Photography