The Faculty of Natural Science and Mathematics (FNSM) at St. Olaf College once occupied space in three separate buildings without a unifying element. Furthermore, the buildings no longer adequately served the needs of the students and faculty. Holabird & Root completed a feasibility study with basic space allocations, massing models, and cost analysis for the FNSM facilities. Based on this study, St. Olaf College retained Holabird & Root to design a new 170,000-g.s.f. science complex with a connector to an adjacent 23,000-g.s.f. teaching facility, also renovated by Holabird & Root.
Holabird & Root’s design encourages interaction among the science disciplines by intermixing informal gathering spaces, student study spaces, and offices throughout the facility. The building’s center features a beautiful glass atrium with views out in three directions.
The project provides new classrooms, tiered lecture rooms, research and teaching laboratories, and offices while consolidating the disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, and mathematics. The design incorporates specialized spaces for anatomy/neuroanatomy, animal facilities, and laboratories for optics, computational physics, physiology, genetics, microbiology/immunology, and biochemistry. The new science facility also includes a greenhouse, an accessible green roof, and a science library.
The facility earned Platinum level certification as quantified by the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. This facility is among the first major science facilities in the country designed with an emphasis on “green chemistry,” a developing trend that seeks to minimize the need for hazardous chemicals in lab experiments. As a result, the building has significantly fewer fume hoods than the old science building, thus furthering the College’s ongoing theme of environmental sustainability.