A place in history

william deegan
Monday 08 Feb 2010

Learning centre completes on historic campus at foot of Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Spillman Farmer Architects has completed the new multidisciplinary Doering Science Building for Bryn Athyn College, a small liberal arts and science college in Pennsylvania where the average class size is just ten students. Placed near the early 20th century Bryn Athyn Cathedral, the new college building is designed to complement the site and to adhere to the college's mission: to enhance students' civil, moral, and spiritual life, as well as to contribute to human spiritual welfare.

Across 39,000 sq ft, the three-storey facility supports the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Sciences and features both dry and wet teaching and research laboratories. The programming phase of the building was facilitated by Strategic Science & Technology Planners (SST Planners), a Virginia-based expert in academic laboratory planning.

In addition to the typical laboratory facilities, this new centre of the sciences was designed to promote collaboration and student/faculty engagement through a combination of small group spaces and sitting areas located to foster spontaneous interaction. On entering the building visitors are welcomed by a dramatic full height lobby which acts as the centre of circulation throughout the building. The Labs, which are highly transparent, and have a direct connection to the outdoors are organized around the public atrium creating an openness and connection for students to their surroundings.

"The campus of Bryn Athyn has a rich history of art and architecture," said Joseph N. Biondo of Spillman Farmer Architects. "The Doering Center was conceived with simple forms without extravagant or superfluous decoration. The building’s exterior masonry and glass façade play off the proportions and scale of the existing campus buildings. While elegantly woven details of stone and brick pay homage to the rich architectural history of Bryn Athyn. The building placement and program is organized to create an outdoor court on direct axis with the Brickman Student Center. Here the glass enclosure, meant to show activity within, becomes a welcoming gesture to the campus.

"This three storey glassed atrium becomes a gathering place or teaching opportunity for the student body."

The building is on target to achieve LEED Silver certification.

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