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BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

United States Architecture News - Oct 10, 2022 - 17:09   1394 views

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG has broken ground on its new science center at the Claremont McKenna College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, in California, United States

Called Robert Day Sciences Center, the 135,000 square foot (12,541 square meters) "jenga-like" building will be a home for the College’s next-generation Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences - a powerful, multi-disciplinary, computational approach to advance gene, brain, and climate knowledge.  

BIG's new building, made of glazed façades and a rectangular wood-clad trusses, is situated on the eastern edge of Claremont McKenna College, at the corner of Ninth Street and Claremont Boulevard - creating a strong gateway to the campus. Due to the strategic position of the building, it is aimed to facilitate strong connections to other academic departments on campus.

Thanks to its open roofs, the building offers views towards Mt. Baldy. If everything goes on a plan, the building is expected to be completed in 2024. 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Atrium level 2

"The Robert Day Sciences Center launches a series of campus developments and improvements to prepare Claremont McKenna for its next chapter," said BIG. 

The building honors CMC alumnus, 52-year trustee, and W.M. Keck Foundation Chairman Robert Day ’65 P’12. Aiming for LEED Gold, the building will serve a community of 1,400 students.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Atrium steps view

"Transformational programs inspire path-breaking architecture. The iconic Robert Day Sciences Center will be home to the College’s next-generation Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences, a powerful, multi-disciplinary, computational approach to the grand socio-scientific challenges and opportunities of our time—gene, brain, and climate," said Claremont McKenna College President Hiram E. Chodosh.

The new Robert Day Sciences Center and Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences represent an educational evolution in how the College will prepare its students - one that deliberately and coherently integrates sciences and computation with the humanities and social sciences to address big thematic priorities in scientific discovery and application.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

View from plaza

"More than ever, we are seeing the confluence of previously distinct disciplines: breakthroughs in computer and data science lead to breakthroughs in the natural and life sciences. As a consequence, we need to provide spaces for the integration of these previously siloed sciences," said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director, BIG.

"The architecture for the new Robert Day Sciences Center’s seeks to maximize this integration and interaction. The labs and classrooms are stacked in a Jenga-like composition framing a column-free, open internal space with the freedom and flexibility to adapt the ever-evolving demands of technology and science," Ingels added.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Atrium view

"Each level of the building is oriented towards a different direction of the campus, channeling the flow of people and ideas internally between the labs and the classrooms as well as externally between the integrated sciences and the rest of the campus." 

"It is our hope that the building will not only provoke new conversations between scientists but that it may also stimulate the rest of the liberal arts students to take a deeper interest in the sciences and vice versa. The analytical embracing the experimental – rationality intersecting with creativity," Ingels added.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Terrace day

The building’s structure is defined as a stack of two volumes, or rectangle ‘blocks’ – two per floor – with each pair rotated 45 degrees from the floor below. 

On the interior, each individual volume is expressed as a rectangular wood-clad truss on the long edges, and as a floor-to-ceiling glass facade on the shorter sides. 

The continual rotation of each floor creates a sky-lit, central atrium at the heart of the building that provides direct views into classrooms and research spaces from all levels. Upon entering, students will find themselves in a full-height atrium with open spaces that invite collaborative activity – embodying both the architectural and educational approach of the center. 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Classroom view

"Today more than ever, an interdisciplinary approach to the sciences is vital to tackling the world's biggest challenges such as health, climate, and misinformation," said Leon Rost, Partner, BIG. 

"By literally stacking disciplines together, the building becomes an expression of collaboration and a crossroads for scientific thought. The parallel wings extend the historical framework of the campus mall, then pivot diagonally to face the future of the CMC campus expansion," Rost added.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Quantum library

Students, professors, staff, and visitors will be able to access the new center from two main entrances – at the ground floor and the first floor – located at different elevations due to the north-south slope of the campus. 

Students entering through the south side will be met by a cafe and the open auditorium’s grand staircase that leads up towards the atrium. 

The instructional and research spaces are organized around the perimeter of the building - providing classrooms with picturesque views while keeping the quieter instructional spaces farther away from the more social atrium. 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Level 3 atrium terrace event

Overall, the interior’s materiality is defined by the contrast of the warm wood-clad beams, concrete floors, and the functional double-duty surfaces found within the integrated sciences labs.

Eight outdoor roof terraces located on the corner perimeters of each ‘bar’ offer sweeping 360-degree views of the mountains to the north, the campus to the west, and the Roberts Campus to the east. 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Night exterior view

Designed with a mix of hardscape and softscape areas featuring native plantings, these “green roof” spaces are multi-functional, designed to be used for outdoor classrooms, study areas, or places to meet classmates and professors.

On the exterior, the building is surrounded by versatile public spaces, such as “The Mall” on the west side of the building, and the “Art Square” and “Sciences Garden” for educational experiments with plant species – both located on the east side of the building. 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Main atrium

Approximately 9,000 square foot (836 square meters) of solar panels on the Robert Day Sciences Center roof will provide between 200 - 230 megawatt hours of energy production per year.

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Teaching Lab

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

Teaching Lab 

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

BIG breaks ground on jenga-like Robert Day Sciences Center at California's Claremont McKenna College

The Robert Day Sciences Center is BIG’s latest U.S.-based higher-education project following the University of Massachusetts Amherst Business Innovation Hub, completed in 2019.

BIG together with Carlo Ratti Associati designed biophilic CapitaSpring Skyscraper in Singapore. BIG also completed a new hotel with zigzagging slabs for watchmaker brand Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus, Switzerland. 

Project facts

Size: 135,000 SF
Location: Claremont, California, United States
Client: Claremont McKenna College
Collaborators: Saiful Bouquet (Structural Engineer), Acco Engineered Systems (MEP), Atlas Civil Design (Civil Engineer), LRM Landscape Architecture (Landscape Architect), Rosendin Electric (Electrical and fire alarm Engineer), WSP USA (MEP and LEED Consultant), Jacobs (Lab Planning Consultant), ARUP (Acoustics & IT Consultant), KGM Architectural Lighting (Lighting Consultant), Heintges (Building Envelope Consultant), KOA (Roadway & Traffic design), EWCG (Vertical Transportation Consultant).

 

Project Team
Partners-in-Charge:
Bjarke Ingels, Leon Rost
Project Manager: Aran Coakley
Project Leader: Lorenz Krisai
Project Architect: Amir Mikhaeil
Team: Abigail Meyer, Ahmad Tabbakh, Alexander Matthias Jacobson, Alvaro Velosa, Ana Luisa Pedreira, Beat Schenk, Bernardo Schuhmacher, Bianca Blanari, Carlos Castillo Simanca, Casey Tucker, Christopher Tron, David Iseri, Douglass Alligood, Dylan Hames, Florencia Kratsman, Francesca Portesine, Gary Polk, Guillaume Evain, Gus Steyer, Hector Romero, James Donaldson, Jamie Maslyn Larson, Jan Leenknegt, Kam Chi Cheng, Ken Chongsuwat, Lucia Sanchez Ramirez, Marcus Wilford, Margaret Tyrpa, Melody Hwang, Montre'ale Jones, Neha Sadruddin, Ololade Owolabi, Peter Sepassi, Ryan Duval, Seung Ho Shin, Sue Biolsi, Terrence Chew, Thomas McMurtrie, Tracy Sodder, Yen Jung Alex Wu, Yiling Emily Chen.

All images courtesy of BIG.

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