The intersection of art & science

01 Mar 2011

Perkins + Will designs flexible interdisciplinary academic research environment at Florida International University

The Florida International University Science Classroom Complex creates a gateway to the Academic Health Sciences Center district within FIU’s main Miami campus. The new 137,500-sq-ft facility will provide research and classroom space for various colleges on campus that will utilise the facilities laboratories, lecture halls, student study spaces and vivarium. The project has a LEED® certification goal of Gold. The client’s vision for the project embraced recent academic research and teaching models which have evolved to become more interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary.

Research communities were created within the building that allow for flexibility and adaptability in research funding. The fusion of client aspirations and design expertise fostered innovative site strategies, programming and tectonics. Materials, scale and pedestrian connections root the project in its context. A campus greenbelt, large communal plaza and rain garden intersect the building to erode the building mass creating a multi-storey portal to the Health Sciences district and connection to the campus and the community. A plinth is established at the ground level, an amorphous gathering space, creating a community of learning. Highly visible circulation, elevators and interconnecting stairs encourage collaboration and the exchange of ideas. Above, interior partitions are dissolved inspiring a community of research.

Advancing the University’s central purpose as a research institution, laboratory spaces have been placed along the north facade, aligned with the north vehicular and pedestrian campus entry to showcase research at the front door. The mapping of overshadowing by context buildings is translated into an exterior façade fabric. This texture of precast and glazing responds with subtle shifts in its tilt, tracing the sun’s path and compensating for solar exposure where no adjacent buildings provide shade.

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