Clark College STEM Building

  • LOCATION: Vancouver, WA
  • COMPLETED: 2016


Students attending Clark College in Vancouver, WA now have access to enhanced learning opportunities in the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building. Encompassing over 70,000 square feet, the $40 million facility hosts biology, chemistry, engineering, physics and geology programs. The building also features a drop tower for lab experiments, and a 6-table cadaver lab for human anatomy observation. The STEM building offers abundant natural light, transparency into learning spaces, display and interactivity, and acoustically appropriate environments throughout. Housing 30 classrooms and science labs, the building also features one technology computer lab, indoor/outdoor study spaces, offices and support areas.

Key Design Concepts

Light and Outdoor Access: Research proves that quality lighting, specifically daylighting, has positive impacts on student learning and work performance. The STEM building maximizes the neurological, physical and energy savings aspects of day lighting, while minimizing any detrimental aspects such as unwanted heat and glare. A rooftop plaza and an outdoor classroom provide alternative learning and studying venues in an outdoor setting.

Views: Transparency into learning spaces allows for views of teaching and learning activities, generating additional interest in STEM programs of study. The increase of educational transparency between programs also helps to create a true cross-disciplinary atmosphere.

Movement: The building encourages healthy movement of its occupants with easily located stairs, encouraging their use and reserving the elevator for those requiring accessibility. Accommodations increase bike and mass transit usage on the campus; bike racks and lockers rest under cover in secure, centrally-located areas.

Display and Interactivity: Designed for use as an educational tool, the building design exposes the science and technology inherent in the infrastructure and support systems. The spaces within and around the building encourage student and faculty interaction and the free exchange of ideas and concepts in STEM. One such space is the Collaboratorium, a group workspace that students can use for projects and to build experiments. A machining room adjacent to the Collaboratorium further enables students to test their designs. Another thoughtful design feature is rain gardens, flanking the main entry, meant to show students how storm-water infiltrates into the ground.

Sound: Successful acoustics are vital to the learning process. Areas of circulation benefit from the energy and sound of activity, while learning spaces need to enhance the spoken word and encourage focus. Additional care was given to dedicated and informal learning areas to create acoustically appropriate environments.

Sustainable Design

The project team was committed to building stronger communities through a commitment to sustainability. The STEM building is expected to receive LEED™ Silver Certification in part because of the following:

Recycled Waste: 97.5% of construction waste was recycled.

Brownfield Redevelopment: The new building replaces an antiquated building that had outlived its useful life and contributes to improved environmental quality by addressing asbestos contamination in the soil, which was removed from site for remediation prior to construction.

Reduction of Water Use: Low-flow and sensor activated plumbing fixtures were selected to achieve a 30% reduction in water usage over a standard building.

Enhanced Commissioning: Done to ensure the building systems are functioning as designed. Responsible Material Use:  50% of the wood used on the project was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

VOC: Interior finishes selected meet stringent guidelines for VOC content.


The STEM building will host more than just educational activities. A rooftop plaza provides study space for students as well as a beautiful venue for events. The main lobby is flexible to expand into an adjacent digital lounge and classrooms to create a large multi-purpose space for functions and exhibits when needed.


Architect: LSW Architects, PC

Survey: Minister-Glaeser Surveying Inc

Civil Engineering: Harper Houf Peterson Righellis Inc

Landscape Architect: Walker + Macy

Land Use: Berger ABAM

Structural Engineering: Kramer Gehlen & Associates, Inc

Mechanical & Electrical Engineering/ Technology/Voice/Data: Interface Engineering

Acoustical: Listen Acoustics

Interior Design: Varo Interior Design

Security/Access/CCTV/Fire Alarm/HVAC Controls: Siemens Industries Building Technologies, Div.

Contractor: Skanska