A Place to Learn and Be Inspired
Clark College - STEM Building
LSW designed the Clark College Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) building to provide an enhanced learning environment that pairs functionality with an invigorating sense of warmth and transparency.
Brightened by an abundance of natural light, the 70,000+ sf site features modern spaces that cater to the multidisciplinary needs of students in the biology, chemistry, engineering, physics, and geology programs. This includes a drop tower for lab experiments, a 6-table cadaver lab for human anatomy observation, a technology lab, and multiple indoor-outdoor collaboration spaces.
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 conduct experiments. A machining room adjacent to the Collaboratorium further enables students to test their designs. The rain gardens flanking the main entry create another thoughtful design feature. They are meant to show students how storm-water infiltrates into the ground.
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.
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.
The prominent, easily located staircases encourage student use when going from one floor to the next. This has the dual benefit of encouraging movement and reserving the elevator for those who need it. Additionally, the centrally located bike racks and lockers are intended to promote alternative transport options to and from campus.
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.
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:
Low-flow and sensor activated plumbing fixtures were selected to achieve a 30% reduction in water usage over a standard building
The new building replaces an antiquated building that had outlived its useful life
97.5% of construction waste was recycled
Removal of asbestos in the site soil prior to construction
Abundance of natural daylighting throughout building
Interior finishes selected meet stringent guidelines for VOC content
50% of the wood used on the project was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council