Los Angeles-based CO Architects designed the Life Sciences Building for Loyola Marymount University (LMU) to address the college’s desire to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration. The integration of three project objectives—“interdisciplinary collaboration,” “science on display,” and “sustainability”—informed the design process to produce a building that acts as a daily teaching tool. Its innovative design—with a play of transparency and solid, and tension between orthogonal and sinuous lines—establishes a new architectural standard for the campus. Faculty offices and laboratories are based on research focus rather than department. As a result, the building’s layout, including interior and exterior interaction spaces, invites casual conversation about research and projects that is less likely in a traditional layout. With its large courtyard, accessible green roof, state-of-the-art auditorium, and communal spaces, the Life Sciences Building serves as a hub for everyone on the West Los Angeles campus.
As the first facility designed under LMU’s Campus Master Plan, the Life Sciences Building sets the pace for modern, sustainable design. The building reinterprets the classic Spanish Revival vernacular of the campus by wrapping around an active central courtyard. Individual façades are treated dissimilarly according to their orientation and function. Variety is achieved through the material palette of fiber cement siding, exposed poured-in-place concrete, corrugated metal screens, perforated zinc assemblies, and glazed aluminum curtain walls. Exterior ramps and interior stairways are visible through transparent portions of the façades. Large, flat, solar-paneled roof overhangs parallel to the ground plane protect the interiors from the effects of the sun, yet leave views into and out of the building unobstructed. The corner auditorium is a signature piece and its blue exterior—made from an acoustic baffle system that filters daylight into the auditorium—is highly visible through full-height wrap-around glass panels.
A striking exterior feature is the three-story green roof that starts at grade and terminates as the roof of the large auditorium. The ramp has gently rising stairs to climb from the courtyard to connecting outdoor terraces at the various levels of the building. Functioning as an “outdoor living laboratory,” the second-level teaching terrace with three custom-designed ipe wood growing containers allows faculty and students to experiment with seed and plant research. The large outdoor gathering space at the top of the green roof ramp provides 360-degree panoramic views of the Los Angeles basin.
Research and teaching labs are configured to encourage the theme of “science on display.” The prominent corner site and large glazed surfaces between the laboratories and the corridors increase visibility, allowing teaching and research activities to be easily viewed without disturbing lab occupants. The arrangement of spaces dedicated to particular functions underscores the desire to make connections. The result is a building that functions not only as an envelope for offices and labs, but also as a pedagogical tool.
CO Architects’ design team capitalized on established and new sustainable technologies, as well as the opportunity for the building to be a “living ecological lab” for the science students. The green roof and drought-tolerant vegetation serve as teaching tools in biology coursework. Environmental science classes will monitor storm water retention planters for pollutants. More than 8,200 square feet of photovoltaic panels at the third-floor roof will generate 10% of the expected electricity load, and will be used in Engineering department coursework. The Life Sciences Building is LEED Gold certified.
Material Used :
1. Millwork: Formica; Trespa; Nevamar Surface Systems; fabricated by Day Star Industries
2. Cabinets: Kewaunee Scientific Corporation (laboratory casework)
3. Acoustics: Fitzfelt (wall panel fabrics); Armstrong (ceilings); HunterDouglas (ceilings); Ceilings Plus (metal ceiling)
4. Flooring: Prestige Carpets; Forbo Flooring Systems (sheet flooring); Corradini Corp. (terrazzo); Arizona Polymer Flooring (polymer)
5. Door Hardware: Schlage; Rixson; Trimco; Markar Architectural Products; Pemko Manufacturing; Best Access Systems; Allegion
6. Glass/Glazing: Arcadia (interior and exterior systems); Oldcastle (glass)
7. Paint: Dunn-Edwards
8. Auditorium/Assembly: Sentech Architectural Systems (structural glass)
9. Signage: TFN Architectural Signage
10. Windows: Arcadia