Clayton State University Science Building

The S/L/A/M Collaborative
675 Ponce De Leon Ave, NE, Suite 4100
Atlanta, Georgia 30308-1829
(404) 443-9106
William Stelten, AIA

Project Location: 2000 Clayton State Blvd, Morrow, GA, 30260
Completion Date: 08/15/2015
Owner: Clayton State University

Builder: McCarthy Building Companies, Inc.

Engineers Involved:
Civil Engineer: Eberly & Associates
MEP Engineer: Nottingham, Brook & Pennington, Inc
Structural Engineer: KSi Structural Engineers

Additional Team:
Cost Estimator: Costing Services Group, Inc.

Project Description

Sited on the eastern edge of a lake on the rolling hills of the Clayton State University Campus, the Lakeview Discovery and Science Center’s form unfolds towards the water, taking advantage of its beautiful natural setting. The building serves as a literal “gateway” to an expanding campus, framing vistas of the lake and trees from various spaces within the building.
The three-story lab building is designed as a modern home for the sciences, featuring stacked biology and chemistry suites, each integrating research, prep, and teaching labs. Flanking the labs are 64- and 32-person classrooms and faculty office suites. A challenge of the project was to create a modern STEM building, including teaming spaces, in an efficient footprint. The project solved this challenge by utilizing an innovative laboratory pod layout to maximize efficiency, freeing up square footage for a variety of types of collaborative spaces, each appealing to different types of learners.
In belief that a sizeable public space for student/teacher interaction was critical to achieving the mission of the building, an innovative indoor/outdoor “porch commons” was created as a cost-effective solution. The covered commons serves as a welcoming entrance at all hours, taking advantage of the mild Georgia climate through three exposed sides, saving significantly on both construction and operational costs. The porch commons serves several functional and symbolic needs, creating a gateway to the new section of the campus, a covered entrance for the building, a destination plaza for a three science building complex, and a sense of place at the lake’s edge.
The floor plans are organized along a single-loaded corridor, lined by a transparent wall on the lake side, and research labs to the west. The corner windows within the research labs afford an inside/outside view, achieving a project goal of placing ‘science on display’. Two lab pods per floor radiate around oversized ‘vestibules,’ which allow for spontaneous collaboration and views between labs.
Deriving its form from its University context, a dramatic, curved roof runs the full length of the building, forming the backbone of the massing composition. Its heights are driven by taller mechanical equipment clearances towards the building center, and lower clearances at fire stairs on the ends. The building’s structure is envisioned as an instructional tool, with roof beams framing an evening observation deck for astronomy students. Exposed steel structural members throughout express the building’s construction method, striving to help students understand compressive and tensile forces. The building presents a more solid façade toward and in keeping with the existing campus to the south, and a more transparent elevation toward the lake and future campus expansion.
Prominent glazed areas of the public spaces of the building and secondary windows allow for daylight harvesting, with light to penetrating deep into the building. The use of eastern light bouncing off the lake provides a spiritual uplift to the interior spaces. In addition to the operational savings of having the building’s largest public space, the porch commons, not needing to be heated and cooled, sustainable initiatives on the project include an overall reduction of site’s impervious surface (site was previously covered by a 200+ car parking lot). Sun shading is utilized on the south elevations to reduce heat gain, and both recycled materials and local materials are utilized. Additionally, by taking advantage of the lake as an existing site amenity, the addition of decorative landscaping was minimized.