Last year INTERSTICE Architects unveiled an "Innovation Landscape" for the new University of San Francisco Center for Science that beautifully merges the building's indoor and outdoor space. The unique multi-level plan places laboratories and classrooms underground, with a green roof, outdoor plaza, and skylights above. New plantings throughout the landscape feature gingko trees – not only a unique and attractive tree, but one with special significance to the university as it changes from green to gold with the seasons - which conveniently match the school colors! We tagged along with Andrew Dunbar and Zoee Astrachan of INTERSTICE for an Architecture and The City Festival tour of the new project at the University of San Francisco (USF) campus - check out our photos in the gallery below!
INTERSTICE teamed up with the university, an engineering team and the building’s architects to conceptualize a “campus walk” that refocused the campus center experience on pedestrians, rather than cars. INTERSTICE emphasized the unique ties between the building and the landscape – there are multiple access points to the buildings, gardens, and plazas for visitors and students, seamlessly connected via a series of ramps, elevators, steps, and bridges.
A unifying “wave” typology can be seen everywhere – from the undulating form of the grassy green roof to the undulating white forms of the entryway to the science center. The simple concrete form of the new science building is reflected in the cast concrete benches and the granite pavers of the plaza, which are placed in a series of mosaic patterns inspired by the Fibonacci sequence.
The science center itself, designed by NBBJ, achieved LEED Gold certification. It features many unique sustainable elements, such as mechanical windows that louvre themselves open depending on the temperature to provide passive ventilation. The sunny rooftop plaza features a native plant garden that provides valuable biodiversity habitat and filters rainwater. The collected water is then distributed to cooling towers across the campus. Stormwater management was a key feature of the project from the outset – in addition to the cistern under the native plant garden, the site features rain gardens and permeable pavers on the lower level plaza.
With students studying and socializing all over the site, it’s easy to see that INTERSTICE has achieved their goal of creating a landscape design that works as a hub for science, learning, and sustainability visually and metaphorically, signifying a renewed focus on environmental stewardship at USF.