New Lab Space at Bryant University (R.I.)
WHEN A NEW LIBRARY FREED UP THREE STORIES originally used for that purpose in Unistructure, Bryant’s main academic building, it was a prime opportunity for the science department to expand and upgrade its facilities.
? FUNCTION: Lab and research space for undergraduates and faculty
? CHALLENGES: Bryant’s 2,500 square feet of lab space had changed little since the university’s opening about 38 years ago. As Gaytha Langlois, chair of the Science and Technology department, explains, the science area “was confined to a section of the building. There was nowhere to expand it. So we were stuck with the lab spaces that we had.” And the lack of any research space meant faculty had to collaborate with colleagues at other institutions. This meant time away from campus and students.
There were also limitations due to the building’s age, Langlois says. For example, turning on eight hot plates in a single lab or using sanitizing equipment simultaneously would blow a fuse.
The labs get a lot of use and will be used even more. More than 800 Bryant students, regardless of major, take a lab course each year. And in the fall the university expects to offer two new majors heavy in hands-on research?environmental science and biology.
? SOLUTION: When space opened up in the building, architects were brought in to see how the three floors formerly occupied by the library could be used. The upper floor of the former library was located immediately adjacent to the science area, and the growing department was able to pick up about 6,000 square feet by using nearly all of that floor, for a total of just under 9,000 square feet overall. (Faculty offices at Bryant are grouped together in another area.) One-on-one meetings between a designer and faculty member meant the design team could “literally design the spaces to be exactly what we wanted,” Langlois says. As the faculty member answered questions about current and potential future uses of his or her individual lab, the designer would sketch the layout. This was particularly exciting, she explains, because it’s relatively unusual for each faculty member to have an individual lab at an institution whose science programs are targeted more toward the undergraduate population.
The new space has two teaching labs and eight research labs. And the new equipment?which includes a variety of mass spectrometers for accessing organic and inorganic material, a high-performance liquid chromatograph for use on such complex mixtures as pesticides, a solvent extractor system, and high-powered research microscopes?was chosen carefully and early so that it would fit perfectly in the rooms, Langlois says.
She has noticed that the new labs have given faculty renewed inspiration in their teaching. Of course, a scientist’s work is never really done. Next summer, the department will grow again to feature a 16-seat lab for more advanced students.
? TOTAL COST: $5 million ($700,000 of which was for analytical instruments and other items, including furnishings, unrelated to construction)
? TIMELINE: Started and completed in the summer of 2008
? PROJECT TEAM: CBT (Boston) provided design for the project; Shawmut Design and Construction (also in Boston) managed the construction.
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