Seattle, Washington – October 26, 2021 – LMN Architects is pleased to celebrate the completion of the Interdisciplinary Center at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington. Located at the center of the academic complex and the campus, the new building is characterized by porous, transparent, and vibrant social spaces supporting a variety of teaching laboratories that put science on display.
The Interdisciplinary Science Center (ISC) for physics, chemistry, biology, and geology at Eastern Washington University (EWU) places science prominently within the public life of the University. The building completes the western edge of Arevalo Student Mall, and to the south, it accommodates and amplifies a primary pedestrian corridor, connecting the central campus to the growing athletics precinct to the west. Along this pathway, the building and its bridges frame a significant new campus gateway that will reinforce the prominence of the Science Education programs at Eastern Washington University. The facility is connected to the existing Science Building Center by two enclosed pedestrian bridges, forming a single integrated facility between the two structures.
David Bowman, Dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at EWU comments: “The new Interdisciplinary Science Center is changing the face of science at Eastern Washington University. It’s a state-of-the-art, student-centered, and visually stunning facility, but most of all, it’s a place where future scientists, businesspeople, and leaders can build a community while learning about the sciences that have and will continue to shape our world.”
Stephen Van Dyck, Partner, LMN Architects, comments: “Together with Eastern Washington University and our team of consultants, we have designed the Interdisciplinary Science Center as an extroverted and welcoming new addition to the Eastern campus. Through its planning and expression, the building expands the University’s prominence and capacity in the sciences and transforms the campus experience along a major pedestrian corridor.”
The new ISC is designed to be a teaching tool itself. Inside the building, laboratory instrument exhibits and educational displays are integrated throughout its central corridor walls, creating an interactive educational environment, and connecting the laboratory and corridor in a dynamic exchange of filtered views. Outside the building, the landscape design features significant geologic specimens along site walls and native plant species arrayed among the building’s various micro-climates and was conceived through close collaboration with the teaching faculty.
The architectural composition presents a four-level, brick-clad, rectangular form with prominent voids at either end. Within each void, a crystalline glass wall marks major entries and social spaces. “The building is designed to be both symbolic and intuitive,” says Van Dyck. “The logic of the panelized brick enclosure gives way to the unexpected. These moments of punctuation and pause frame the spaces where people come together, connecting the activity of the building within to the campus beyond.”
The rectilinear form of the building is clad with a panelized red brick façade system, alternately staggered in elevation to reveal a consistent rhythm of windows into the laboratory spaces within. The envelope system is detailed with a purity and simplicity to match the building’s composition, with black metal trim elements simplifying the joints between panels and windows. The planar brick panels are accentuated with a subtle mix of cascading glazed surfaces, animating the façade in a continual play of subtle reflection throughout the day.
The internal organization of the building follows the linear movement through the site, with laboratories flanking either side of a generous central corridor on all floors. The building responds to the site topography through its internal circulation and features a prominent stair at the eastern entry that leads to the second level corridor and western entry beyond. A lecture hall on Level 1 is carved into the sloping site forming the terminus of that level in the hillside.
The three levels above feature a linear arrangement of laboratories, each with a corner display window that visually connects the teaching spaces to the social life of the building. Laboratories are tailored to the unique needs and special requirements of each department and are interconnected along the exterior edge of the building via a “ghost” corridor to adjacent prep rooms. A multipurpose gathering space on the fourth floor is accentuated with faceted glass walls facing south and east and features an adjacent terrace with views over the campus to the landscape and mountains beyond.
Jennifer Milliron, Principal, LMN Architects, comments: “The Interdisciplinary Science Center demonstrates our commitment to supporting client goals through innovation, research, and sustainability. Through close collaboration with Eastern Washington University and the faculty, we were able to create a unique science ecosystem that is finely tuned to meet their teaching needs, foster collaboration across the departments and create a new face for science on campus.”
The project has received LEED Gold certification. Some of the sustainable strategies include low-flow fume hoods and heat recovery pipes, rainwater harvesting, xeriscaping, and inclusion of botanical and geological landscape elements that serve as teaching tools. Each laboratory is a complex, yet simple composition of private and public spaces that elevate the social experience. The building is in dialogue with the academic context, and the design is a highly ordered study in scale, materiality, transparency, and natural light.
The ribbon cutting ceremony took place at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 22 with State Senator Jeff Holy, State Representative Marcus Riccelli, Spokane County Treasurer Michael Baumgartner, EWU Interim President Dr. David May, Dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Dr. David Bowman, Student Representative Taryn Wilson, Alumni Representative Darby McLean, and STEM representatives.
LMN Architects is a leader in the design of higher education facilities in North America. Other completed projects include the Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington; the Voxman Music Building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City; the Anteater Learning Pavilion at the University of California, Irvine; and the Plant Sciences Building at Washington State University.
About LMN Architects
Since its founding in 1979, LMN Architects has dedicated its practice to the health and vitality of communities of all scales. Internationally recognized for the planning and design of environments that elevate the social experience. The firm works across a diversity of project typologies, including higher education facilities, science and technology, civic and cultural projects, conference and convention centers, urban mixed-use and transportation.
LMN has successfully completed more than 700 projects across North America, such as the Voxman Music Building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa; Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas; Vancouver Convention Centre West in Vancouver, Canada; Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences Middle School in Seattle, Washington; Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington; Sound Transit University of Washington Station in Seattle, Washington; and the recently completed expansion and renovation of the Seattle Asian Art Museum.
Based in Seattle, Washington, the firm employs 150 talented professionals practicing architecture, interior design, and urban design. The quality of the work has been recognized with nearly 300 national and international design awards, including the prestigious 2016 National Architecture Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).