After more than 15 years of planning and preparation, the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania recently celebrated the opening of the EYP-designed Loyola Science Center, one of the country's most innovative LEED-certified green buildings. The National Science Foundation's Project Kaleidoscope was created to encourage creative strategies to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the sciences. By incorporating these principles into the design of the building itself, the Loyola Science Center hopes students, faculty and researchers will find it easier to interact and collaborate.
There’s no doubt that the look and feel of higher education is changing. Massive lecture halls, where students are merely a face in the crowd, and teachers are miles away, are finally going extinct. In their place are bright, open learning environments that encourage interaction, discussion and creativity. To encourage interaction between scientific disciplines, the 200,000-square-foot Loyola Science Center incorporates a dynamic, modern design that includes visible glass-walled laboratories. Instead of only chairs and chalkboards, the center features ample informal learning spaces; classrooms that permit group activities and hands-on-learning; and teaching and research spaces that are flexible to accommodate changing future needs.
To help it earn LEED Silver certification, the building’s designers used local materials, energy-efficient lights and heating systems, a heat recycling system that captures exhaust air using a heat exchange wheel, and efficient water fixtures. There is also a rooftop greenhouse for research, a vivarium, and a central atrium with a coffee shop.
“A drastic change in environment, the new facility redefines the concept of a learning space,” said George Gomez, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and neuroscience and Project Shepherd of the Loyola Science Center. “It is a structure that emphasizes human interactions as a critical part of education, a structure that unites the traditionally separate and disparate academic disciplines. This radical change in environment can bring forth new life.”
Photographs by Barry Halkin Photography and Robert Benson Photography