About the Building
From its dramatic four-story atrium to its gleaming new laboratories, recitation rooms, and faculty offices, the new 140,000-square-foot instructional building provides much-needed space for students increasingly seeking affordable, high-quality programs in science, engineering, and mathematics -programs.
Located on the south side of the Rockville Campus at the Mannakee Street entrance, the Science Center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and geosciences.
The Science Center (SC) building features a green roof, high-efficiency chillers, solar panels, an underground cistern, and recycled construction materials. The College expects to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council for its environmentally friendly elements. Part of the building’s architectural design are the eco-resin panels depicting elements of the solar system, hanging in the east entrance to the atrium, as well as a large ceiling fan that circulates air and accentuates the four-story ceiling.
Outside, grass terraces serve as an outdoor classroom, and a dock provides students with direct contact to the pond or “living laboratory” for outdoor experimentation and data collection. Other exterior features include native planting, extensive bicycle racks, a variety of seat walls and a greenhouse.
- 29 new laboratories: 14 biology labs, 9 chemistry labs, 6 physics/engineering labs
- Engineering shop
- Faculty/student research space
- Classroom and recitation spaces
- Rooftop observatory
- Quiet study rooms and lounges
- Faculty, staff, and department offices
- Full-height atrium
- Expansive views of enhanced pond, rain gardens, and natural landscaping
- Science and technology on display
- Green roof, high-efficiency chillers, solar panels
- Recycled construction materials and eco-resin panels
- Large atrium fan
- LED and natural lighting
- Regional materials used
- Underground cistern
- Contemporary life safety features
Meeting a Growing Demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
The need for a new Science Center at the Rockville Campus was evident long before the groundbreaking in February 2009. In recent years, more students have enrolled in science, engineering, and mathematics courses than ever before, up 57 percent since 2000. Demands for additional courses, instructional space, and equipment strained aging facilities and created waitlists for many classes. Leaders at the College, county, and state levels agreed: investing in a new building would benefit the entire community. Montgomery County, already home to numerous biotechnology, science, and health research facilities, expects continued growth well into the next decade. As the local science industry grows, so too does demand for a STEM educated workforce.
In fall 2009, 1,500 students tried to register for mathematics and science classes, but classes were full; 57% eventually registered, but 43% (647 students) were not successful in getting the math/science class they needed.
“What started as a renovation to two existing buildings… developed into the dream of a new building. We now have enough space to grow our STEM programs and to innovate with technology.”
—Dr. Judy Ackerman, vice president and provost, Rockville Campus
Smart Design and Expert Input
Throughout design and construction, architects Stantec (formerly Burt Hill) and Cho Benn Holback Associates, and Clark Construction worked with the College’s Facilities Office to maximize energy efficiency and optimize new technology and building materials.
College faculty provided expert advice on what today’s science and engineering majors need to succeed. Highly qualified in their respective academic fields (a majority hold Ph.D.s), faculty contributed ideas based on their experiences with students in the old buildings. One key suggestion: create gathering spaces for students, whose classroom discussions often spill into hallways at the end of class.
The result: four stories of instructional space, organized into “neighborhoods” of program-specific labs, recitation rooms, and study areas. Students and their professors can consult in the nearby department office suites.
“One of the best features of the Science Center is the presence of research labs for student-faculty research projects… Many of us are thinking of new lab exercises that would take advantage of our new high-tech equipment.”
—Aubrey A. Smith, Ph.D., biology professor
Future Plans to Expand
The new Science Center marks the beginning of Montgomery College’s STEM education growth at the Rockville Campus. Renovations to Science East (built in 1965) and Science West (built in 1971) will enhance student experiences with modern classroom and math labs. Once complete, the three buildings will form a science/math/engineering complex, converging via connected hallways and walkways.
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