By Bryan Hay
For Mark Oldham, there’s nothing like designing an academic building to unleash creativity and architectural expression.
“Good architecture is created because of great clients,” said Oldham, project architect of the $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center (RISC), the largest capital project in Lafayette’s history, named for S. Kent Rockwell ’66, one of the College’s most generous benefactors.
“What’s great about academic institutions in America is that they do things for the right reasons because they’re in it for the long haul,” he said. “There’s deep interest among trustees, faculty, administrators, and alumni in creating strong architecture that will last a long time and support meaningful contributions because it’s in the context of educating people.”
“This is a rare set of ingredients that many architects don’t get to experience,” Oldham said. “You can do architecture anywhere, but it takes on more significance in academia.”
During a recent visit to Lafayette, Oldham, of the Boston-based architectural firm Payette, discussed some of the design features of the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center and how it will enhance learning and discovery, complement the College’s historic campus, and establish Lafayette as home to one of the country’s most innovative and energy-efficient collegiate sciences buildings.
“This will be a highly active, 24/7 teaching and research facility,” Oldham said. “One of the building’s primary design goals is to be low energy consumption, but it will be socially energized.”
Flexibility of the space, including teaching labs for 16-20 students with exposed ductwork, steel and concrete floors, and moveable furnishings and work spaces will allow for adaptability as teaching styles and technology evolve over time, he said.
“That flexibility also is transposed to the computer science labs, which is all about the cloud and the server—so no workstation computers,” which will allow furniture to be moved around as needed in any class setting, Oldham noted.
The 103,000-square-foot, five-story building on Anderson Courtyard will bring together biology, computer science, environmental science and studies, and neuroscience and will be connected to Acopian Engineering Center. Kunkel Hall, home to the biology department, will be repurposed following the department’s move into the new building, as will the fifth floor of Acopian, current home to the computer science department.
Lafayette’s IDEAL Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship also will be based in the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center along with the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education and unplanned spaces for future academic growth.
Mindful of Lafayette’s culture of sustainability, Oldham and the Payette team designed an energy-efficient building that will reduce energy consumption by 45 percent below the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) baseline.
“It sets a new standard for the campus, a commitment that Lafayette College has made to be a regional and national leader in an effort to reduce energy consumption,” Oldham said.
The Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center is scheduled to open during the fall semester of 2019.
Winter 2018 – Structural steel installation begins
Spring 2018 – Façade work begins with brick installation
Summer 2018 – Façade work continues with brick, precast, curtainwall, and roofing systems being installed
Fall 2018 – Interior construction begins
Winter 2019 – Interior construction progresses with finishes (paint, flooring, millwork)
Spring 2019 – Interior construction completes with furniture and technology installation and commissioning of building systems
Summer 2019 – Building soft opening
Fall 2019 – Building dedication and grand opening