Western Campus Science & IT Addition
Cuyahoga Community College
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The essential objective of the new STEM Center is to inspire discovery, problem-solving, and collaboration in a refreshingly accessible and optimistic educational environment, while providing the college with a new front facing entrance and new teaching spaces. To that end, contemporary active learning spaces, demonstrative spaces, as well as environmentally and socially sustainable design elements, are the fundamental drivers of the project’s siting, form, and expression.
Simplicity of composition from program and infrastructure distribution, to the structural grid and modular terracotta rainscreen façade components, inspired every design and budgetary decision. Contextually, the STEM Center joins a circa 1973 brick-clad interconnected complex organized around a three-story glass-roofed galleria. The STEM Center deliberately and outwardly puts science and sustainability on display, uses vibrant light colored paints and natural maple wood finishes throughout. A roof solar canopy hovers over the building, shading the upper story and concealing unsightly mechanical rooms, while giving the building a distinctive presence.
Transecting the building is an inviting Student Commons establishing a new campus-complex entry where students and visitors enjoy dappled natural light through a long Building-Integrated Photovoltaic skylight. Biophilic walls and planter benches contribute to improved air quality and assist with sound attenuation. A variety of adjacent study spaces invite the students to linger in the building between classes – individual study rooms are situated above the north and south entrances, while small group quiet studies flank the second-floor collaborative study area. A technology-rich Innovation Center provides students and faculty with interactive virtual tools for collaborative exploration. This space is showcased by fully-glazed frameless storefront activating the space for passersby’s and allowing daylight from the skylight to offset lighting needs.
Bordering the Commons, collaboration spaces invite students to observe and/or join the science exploration; walls acoustically attenuate sound by means of layered natural wood slats and fabric faced panels along with an acoustical ceiling system. Flexible seating for individuals and waterfall tables for small group cohort learning are both situated near whiteboard panels allowing for the ah-ha moments of scientific exploration. The Commons also host two interactive building energy dashboards which inform the user of multiple types of energy usage, the green factors reducing energy use and the buildings performance over its life cycle.
The building’s predicted energy-use-intensity is expected to consume 70% less energy than similar buildings, meeting the AIA 2030 Commitment goal and is slated to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
"Working with the architectural teams from both Ellenzweig and Weber Murphy Fox on the programming and design phases of the STEM Center has been one of the highlights of my career in higher education. I now get to come to work in the magnificent structure that has resulted out of that experience. Each work day I get to watch students enjoy, study and learn in the ideals spaces that the STEM Center provides for them."
Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus