Science Project Goals

Planning the Swarthmore College Science Center

The recently completed long-range planning effort for Swarthmore identified our aging science complex as urgently needing renovation and additional space in the form of new construction. Because of its centrality to our academic program, the science complex was given highest priority in the final list of several compelling projects to improve facilities. At the core of the new and renovated science complex will be Dupont Science Building, constructed in 1959, with a research wing added in 1983-84. Renovation plans will also include parts of Martin Biological Laboratory which was built in 1937 with a wing added in 1963. In addition, because of its proximity and placement between DuPont and Martin, Cornell Science Library will also be included in the Science Center plans.

In 1997, the College began a two year process to identify the academic and curricular needs of the departments currently located in Dupont --Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry, and Mathematics and Statistics -- as well as the Computer Science Program now in Sproul and the Biology Department in Martin. This work was accomplished under the guidance of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, an architectural and engineering firm with a division specializing in university and college science facilities.

In the summer of 1999, with the need analysis for the new science center nearly complete, an on-campus committee was formed to guide this project from planning through to construction. The Science Center Planning Committee is jointly chaired by Provost Jennie Keith, Biology Professor Rachel Merz, and Vice President for Facilities and Services Lawrence Schall. The committee's membership includes faculty and student representatives from each of the departments to be included in the facility, the faculty appointees to the Property Committee, faculty from outside the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering, members of the Board of Managers, and staff representing the Library, Facilities, Development Office, Treasure's Office and Arboretum.

One of the first tasks of the Science Center Planning Committee was to choose a professional team to work with the college in the design and construction phases of this project. Einhorn Yaffee Prescott was selected to be the architect of record and leader of a team including the architectural firm of Helfand Meyerberg Guggenheimer; the landscape and civil engineering firm of Gladnick Wright Salmeda; and the structural engineering firm of Christakis VanOcker Morrison.

A sub-group of the Science Center Planning Committee comprised of faculty and student representatives of the departments to be housed in the new facility, spent much of the summer refining the program and visiting science facilities at other schools. The project will consist of a program of approximately 130,000 gross square feet, 60,000 of which will be new construction and the remainder renovated space in Dupont, Martin and Cornell.

The overall budget for this project is $60.5 million which includes; $5 million for infrastructure improvements, $12.5 million to add to the endowment in order to fund the increased operating costs of the new facility; and $43 million for design and construction.

What follows below is a list of project goals that the Science Center Planning Committee has developed to guide the design professionals in their efforts.

Building Goals

* The building should support pedagogical goals and the scholarly activities of the associated science departments, it should:

* The facility should connect the sciences in ways that foster social and intellectual interaction amongst departments, scientists and students. It should also connect the sciences to the larger Swarthmore community and invite and support interaction between the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.

* The design of the building should allow the sciences to "emerge" from the woods and become a more visible presence on campus. Visitors and residents of the building should be able to see science going on around them.

* The design should be flexible at many levels to accommodate changing needs and new areas of science. There should be flexibility within individual laboratories, in the ability of sets of rooms to be reconfigured, and by having a plan of where and how the building itself could be expanded in the future.

* The project must be consistent with campus planning goals and should produce a building that matches the quality of construction of the rest of campus.

* The project must stay in budget.

* The process of building and the building itself must be environmentally responsible.

Building Specifications

* The project must be designed so that the teaching of science continues through construction, understanding that departments will need to be maximally flexible and creative in their curricular planning to help accomplish this.

* Safety and ventilation standards in the facility should be of the highest quality.

* Renovated and new space should be of the same quality.

* There should be easy access to mechanical services.

* Offices and laboratories (unless otherwise specified) should have access to daylight.

* Windows should be operable, recognizing that those in laboratories (and offices within the same design module) would normally be shut and locked in order for the HVAC to work appropriately.

* Each office should have independent temperature control.

* The building should be zoned to accommodate the use of facilities by outside groups in the summer without impacting faculty and student research.

Site/Campus Goals

* The facility should enhance the relationship of the North Quad to the Crum Woods.

* The project should improve the quality of the North Quad in accordance with the principles developed in the North Campus Plan.

* The building should maintain the scale of campus while linking Dupont, Cornell and Martin Halls.

* The design should improve the arrival sequence into North Quad.

Environmental Goals

* The guidelines developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system) will be used to evaluate the environmental qualities of the project.

* A "Green Team" will be established for the project.

* We will explore concepts of sustainable design not specifically listed in the LEED system.

* Where compatible with other project goals, we will look for ways to use the process of producing the facility as well as the final product itself to provide opportunities for education about the environment and environmental responsibility.

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Send message to the chair of the Science Project Committee , Rachel Merz (

last updated 11/18/99