Faced with an aging science center, Amherst College sought a new, forward-looking building that would create an open learning environment for the entire campus community. The New Science Center anchors the eastern edge of the College’s beautiful hilltop campus. Set against the Pelham Hills beyond, a collection of five distinct building components is nestled into the new Campus Greenway. The components—two high energy laboratory wings to the east, and three pavilions of low intensity uses extending west toward the hilltop academic core—are organized around a central commons and unified by dramatic roof canopy.
From overall organization to detailing, the interior design promotes transparency and interaction. Most of the activity in the Science Center is visible to the College through the glass walls of the commons. Flanked by a café and study library, the central commons offers an open, lively and energetic learning environment, envisioned as a place for students to retreat. The color palette, inspired by the Greenway, is complemented by the extensive use of warm wood finishes and unified by finely crafted skylights which enhance the quality of daylight within.
Just outside the teaching labs, community tables are adjacent to modular living room style seating which is configured on custom nature-inspired area rugs atop of a unifying stone floor. The study tables and oversized modular sofas creates a comfortable and home-like experience where students hang out, study and socialize.
Community spaces adjacent to faculty offices, classrooms and labs strengthen student and faculty engagement and relationships. Lounges, with visual access to the labs and exterior views, are meant to encourage impromptu exchanges and support individual and team-based work.
Contemplative spaces throughout the building are found at the ends of corridors and provide quieter environments for smaller groups to meet and interact with remarkable views of the campus.
The Science Center has become a destination for the entire campus providing a comfortable and-like space to learn, study and interact.