The new STEM Teaching and Learning Facility features an abundance of natural light, exposed ceilings and a mix of modern and repurposed architecture. Tucked inside the sustainably glamorous building are spaces for students to collaborate and learn.
Project manager Jeff Bonk began working with a team in 2017 and hoped to create a space repurposing parts from the old Shaw Lane power plant that used to exist in this location. They kept the center of the plant with exposed brick and built two additions onto it, structured with mass timber.
After adjusting some equipment for safety and mobility, the team included the power plant’s old boiler room, which covers two stories of the building. They also repurposed some old machinery parts to become furniture and accent walls.
“We could’ve just tore (the power plant) down and did nothing with it, but it’s much more sustainable to reuse a facility like that over time rather than spend all the energy, time and materials to build something new,” Bonk said. “That’s adaptive reuse.”
He is appreciative that students can finally use the space they created.
“That’s the best part of our job,” Bonk said. “To really get to see the students interact with the building, when they walk in and say ‘Wow,’ that’s like music to our ears.”
In the facility are lounge spaces, classrooms and labs for students to study. There’s also a dining area called “The Workshop” which has a Combo X-Change option.
Psychology and pre-med student Brennan Haugen enjoys studying in the STEM building after his two lab classes.
“I think it’s a really conducive environment to study,” Haugen said. “I really like the idea that there’s a Sparty’s right here just in case I need a little pick-me-up. It’s quiet, it’s got a nice aesthetic to it and there’s always something to look at.”
Horticulture senior Chandler Deering has classes in the STEM building as well and likes the new lab rooms.
“(The labs) are so much nicer than the previous lab rooms in the (chemistry) building,” Deering said. “They’re so much more spacious.”
She also admires the architecture.
“In here looks really new but very very old at the same time,” Deering said. “The new boiler room is so cool to me, especially the interior with all of the holographic projections. That’s something so cool to walk into and look at for a couple minutes.”
Human biology junior Kate Bellgowan goes to the building to study three or four times a week to complete work for her online classes.
“I came here because I just have a couple friends who have come here to study before and I just thought it was a really cool building,” Bellgowan said. “It’s kind of not like a library because it’s a little more loud, which for me, I don’t mind that at all. It’s a different place to study.”
Bonk hopes the STEM facility continues to be an environment for students to collaborate and learn.
“The nice thing about this building is it’s one of the first buildings we’ve built for like 30, 40 years that is really, in my mind, all for the students,” Bonk said. “It’s not research, it’s dedicated instructional space for students and just a hangout space for students. It’s not housing or food or athletics, this building is purely for the students and for their education.”
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