For nearly a century, The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, has been a regional leader in health and science education, with well over half of all students pursuing careers in the sciences, the health professions, and medicine. The existing Science Building no longer provided adequate space to accommodate the growing student population, and the 1960s-era building felt outdated and worn. In addition, the campus lacked a strong social space to support a sense of student life and community. As the scope of the Science Building addition developed, it became apparent that the project provided an opportunity to meet both of these needs in one facility.
The addition includes 40,000 square feet of teaching labs, research labs, classrooms, faculty offices, and support space wrapped around a central commons area, complete with study rooms and café. An accessible green roof includes an academic greenhouse and a potting room; when the weather permits, classes can be held within this space. The project also includes two pedestrian tunnels that provide vital links to the rest of the campus.
The client requested a building that was respectful to adjacent historic buildings, balancing deference to the heritage of the institution with a new, modern image for science on campus. Choices in material, form and scale were made with this objective in mind. The addition is designed to be an open and connected showcase for science on campus, creating new opportunities for teaching, learning and research. Visual connections into the teaching labs put science on display.
Sustainability and longevity are important values to the college; it does not build new buildings very often, and builds for the long term when it does. Materials and systems were selected with this in mind, and the project subsequently achieved LEED Gold certification.