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The University of Massachusetts Integrated Science Building in Amherst by Jennifer Shelby Designed using AutoCad and FormZ
September 24th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Jennifer Shelby
As the keystone in a new life sciences program at U Mass Amherst, the Integrated Sciences Building (ISB) sets the stage for the transformation of outdated and inhospitable teaching and research environments to a model focused on the integration of life, chemical, and physical sciences.
The building creates a new pulse at a key point on this campus of 26,000, located at a juncture between academic and residential precincts. The ISB presents a new approach to science learning to the entire university community.
The expression of integrity and openness is intended to welcome science and non-science students. The four story south wall of the atrium is a dramatic window to the campus, displaying the celebration of science and technology.
U Mass located the ISB at an important intersection of campus paths to demonstrate a new, open attitude toward science facilities. The ISB’s large, transparent west entry welcomes the U Mass community into a dramatic multistory space that shows off the scientific mission.
The east entry to the ISB provides direct access to the second floor of the atrium. The sloping site allows people to enter the atrium on multiple levels. Classrooms, conference rooms, a computer resource center and a 300-seat auditorium are arranged along the path.
The ISB atrium is a multistory interaction engine. It is the heart of the ISB, the major pedestrian path through the building and its central gathering space. A constant flow of students passing through the balconies and staircases on their way from dorms uphill to the campus center beyond animates the building. Three “treehouses” are spread throughout the upper floors of the atrium to create venues for students to study and collaborate.
Perched throughout the upper floors of the atrium, three “treehouses” provide space for students to work in the spirit of multidisciplinary collaboration. The treehouses are bamboo-clad boxes juxtaposed with the steel, glass, aluminum and terracotta facade of the atrium. They are an invitation to stay in the building; to meet, collaborate, study, or hang out with friends; to see and be seen.
The Introductory Chemistry courses serve laboratory sections of up to 160 students. In these sections, the University strives to preserve a ratio of 16 students to one teaching assistant. A particular challenge in these areas is to allow observation of the entire group by the professor while maintaining environments conducive to instruction in smaller groups.
An innovative chemistry suite design uses ten 16-person modules to create an entire floor that is simultaneously a huge “superlab” and a collection of seminar-like lab “clusters.” This arrangement allows an instructor to rotate between modules (like a doctor doing rounds), without ever leaving the lab space. Grouping students in smaller clusters gives students the feeling of being in an intimate environment, reducing distractions and improving learning.
The ISB presented the opportunity to integrate four major research groups in the Veterinary and Animal Sciences Department formerly spread throughout the campus into a single facility. Research labs are designed for maximum flexibility. Movable benches and rolling casework allow for quick reorganization of the research environment. Specialty lab environments, such as the tissue culture lab, supplement the large, open research lab spaces. Researchers who spend much of their day in tissue culture labs benefit from views and daylight. Shared microscope and specialty instrument labs occupy the core area of the research floor, encouraging efficiency and researcher interaction through centralization of common research activities.
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