Blurring the classroom lines from inside and out, Universities seek to literally extend science education into green spaces on roofs, in greenhouses and adjacent quads. We recently completed work at the University of Rhode Island that demonstrates this emerging trend of indoor / outdoor classrooms.
The University of Rhode Island seeks to educate and encourage young people to discover new ideas, engage in advanced research and emerging technology. By re-envisioning the North District, with the creation of engaging and inviting educational green spaces and by reconnecting the sciences, the master plan meets the campus mission and literally extends the program outside into multi-layered green spaces.
In addition to uniting the sciences on campus, one of the major goals for the North District Master Plan is that any future development must be sustainable. Every aspect must include an acute awareness of the environment. The massing, orientation and interaction with local vegetation and bio-systems will need to follow the guidelines set in place by this district plan. The integration of the physical program and the natural planning of the site create a very unique place which exemplifies the qualities distinctive to the University.
The Rain Garden
The integration of the Rain Garden into the landscape provides a living example of natural processes for students to observe. The Rain Garden, adjacent to the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, re-entrains groundwater from stormwater runoff at both grade and roof levels and is integrated with the building through the use of runnels. Using plant material indigenous to the area, the garden created a bio-habitat as well as a learning lab for the biology and life sciences programs.
The Roof Garden provides respite for upper level offices and labs. The green roof uses indigenous plant materials and reduces the heat isle effect because it is a natural insulator.
The Medicinal Garden embodies the symbolism of the origin of pharmaceutical science and serves as the “front yard” for the College of Pharmacy. The Medicinal Garden, conceived in the North District Master Plan and executed by Keith Wagner, exists where a parking lot was previously.
In the medicinal garden, visitors will find plants that help prevent or cure everything from cold sores to cancer. The garden functions as an educational display of medicinal plants and also as a source of standard specimens. Complementing the new building and modern in execution and details, it features pathways which cross the one and one half-acre garden to provide easy access for visitors to examine the labeled plants. The garden was originally established in 1958 and dedicated to Heber W. Youngken, Jr., Dean Emeritus of the College of Pharmacy in 1994. There are over 200 medicinal plants that are located in the garden. Last week, on April 26, the University re-dedicated the garden in its new location.
Neighborhood Living “Green Walls”
The balconies adjacent to the programs they support for the College of Pharmacy are contemplative locations. By creating deep, recessed volumes along the southern exposure, the resulting spaces provide generous exterior balconies and terraces which lookout towards the Medicinal Garden, an extension of the program’s natural research. The depth of the recess and location of the glass facade is optimized to maximize shading during the summer months. The construction of these neighborhoods revolve around two-story structural piers clad with a brick veneer and wood slats providing a surface for medicinal plantings to grow tall, thus creating a series of living “green walls” located at each neighborhood.
Medicinal Garden Dedication
College of Pharmacy Dedication