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Academic Science and Laboratory Building

Science Building

Southern's ongoing expansion of its science programs has been greatly enhanced with the construction of a 103,608-square-foot, four-level academic and laboratory science building. Situated adjacent to Jennings Hall, the current home for the sciences, the new building enhances the ongoing expansion of Southern’s science programs and the university’s capacity to educate more students in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Configured in the shape of an “L,” the new building works in concert with two pre-existing science buildings — Jennings and Morrill halls — to enclose a new “science enclave.” Bedecked with scientific displays and instrumentation visible from within and outside the building, the new center has assumed a symbolic role for the sciences on campus. Embracing innovative sustainable design, it houses teaching and research training laboratories for nanotechnology, physics and optics, the earth sciences, the environmental sciences, cancer research, astronomy, molecular biology and chemistry.

science building

The building’s two wings are connected at each of its four floors by an alluring connector windowed along its southern exposure and encircling the newly formed science enclave outside. It is along the glass-enclosed path that built-in displays of optical phenomena, the natural environment, nanotechnology, geological formations, biological specimens, and astronomical observations are interspersed among sun-filled lounges, all to advance interaction among the different scientific disciplines housed within. This four-level connector expands at its mid-point to form an oval-shaped, faceted glass quadrangle. Through this focal point, passersby outside are able to peer into the science enclave to glimpse its geological garden of boulders, its system of rain water aqueducts leading to an underground cistern, a commissioned science sculpture, and its hand-on experimental botanical garden. The interior of the glass piazza displays structural elements that echo the shape and function of the fish’s skeletal vertebrae, an impressively large aquarium, an oversized mock nanotube, balcony rails that glow with gossamer scientific effects, phase change elements that alternate between states of motion and rest, and a small impromptu video theater, all intended to set this centerplace ablaze with wonder.

science building

Pitched roofs shelter two attics full of industrial fans exhausting 83 fume hoods. They have been pitched to accept future photovoltaic solar collectors on their south-oriented slopes. A portion of the roofs have also been left flat to accommodate six experimental, Dobsonian telescopes that will, on occasion, be wheeled from their “home port” garage, located under the pitched roof, into their pre-set roof top formation for seminal astronomical experiments throughout the year.


With the aid of computerized 3-D shading studies and energy models, the south-facing glass curtain wall system has been designed to employ a variety of solar devices, including different glazing types and shading coefficients, glass frit patterns, insulated opaque panels, spandrel glass, sun screens and sun shades. Sun-filled sitting areas are shaded from glare, while a high-mass masonry wall acts as a heat “flywheel” under the passive solar heat gain. Different interior occupations along the curtain wall have distinct solar shading responses appropriate for their particular purposes. Kinetic finials integral to the curtain wall’s exterior are either functioning or ornamental scientific instruments on display. They give the building a language to signal that it is a place of scientific study, research, and discovery.


  • ConnScu Center for Nanotechnology located on the ground floor, where the laboratory space is designed to isolate the building vibrations, a necessity when dealing with microscopic materials.
  • Expanded wings for Earth Science, Environmental Science, Molecular Biology, Chemistry, The Center for Coastal Marine Studies, and Physics teaching and research laboratories.
  • A supercomputing laboratory for research in theoretical science, bioinformatics, and computer science.
  • Saltwater aquaria room with touch tank and phytoplankton grow tank, which are the centerpiece of outreach to area schools and the community.
  • Village walkway on the first and second floor, to encourage student/faculty interactions and provide sunlight to all areas of the building.
  • Scientific displays throughout, illustrating the research interests of faculty and the students, including a replica of a nanotube — a focal point in the center of the building.
  • Connections to the existing science building, Jennings Hall, at the ground level and upper level.
  • Outdoor rock garden showcasing rocks indigenous to Connecticut. The garden also serves as an earth science laboratory.
  • Faculty garden, which adds to the campus’ sustainability focus.
  • Rain water collection, which is being used to water the science quad and faculty garden.
  • Two 50-seat classrooms, conference space, and student study areas.


  • $49 million


Centerbrook Architect and Planners, LLC, Centerbrook, Conn.: designers of the College of Arts and Sciences, Carl Hansen Student Center and TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University; Peabody Museum, Kroon Hall, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Prospect Place Modular Building at Yale University; Chemistry Building and School of Business at the University of Connecticut.


  • Spring 2013 – Fall 2015



   Rock Garden
   Science Garden
   Rainwater Collection System

Lower Level

   Center for Nanotechnology
   Lower Level Theatre
   Lower Level Wall Murals

First Floor

   Physics Wing and Associated Laboratories
   First Floor Village Walkway
   Two Aquaria  

Second Floor

   Earth Science Wing and Associated Laboratories
   Astronomy Control Room
   Environmental Science Laboratories

Third Floor

   Chemistry Wing and Associated Laboratories
   Molecular Biology Wing and Associated Laboratories


   Kinetic Displays
   Two 50-Seat Classrooms
   Student Study Areas
   Conference Rooms
   Touch Tank

Academic Science and Laboratory Building