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Science Building for the Future

Smith is moving forward with plans for a $65 million, 136,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom building that will structurally and symbolically integrate traditional scientific disciplines. The environmentally and technologically advanced facility will serve as home for the Picker Engineering Program, as well as the fields of computer science, chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology. This project reflects the most current national thinking about how science and science education should be conducted and is compelling evidence of Smith's commitment to providing the strongest programs in science and engineering of any women's college.

A view of the west elevation of the new building for the molecular sciences and engineering.

Design of the new building has been awarded to the firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, winner of more than 200 national, regional and international awards for design, including the prestigious Architecture Firm Award from the American Institute of Architects. The firm's academic clients have included Princeton University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania and Trinity College.

A key design element of the building is sustainability. Plans call for extensive use of natural light and ventilation, sophisticated heat recovery systems, reduced reliance on mechanically conditioned air, recycling of gray water and storm water, and highly efficient energy sensors and controls. Also under discussion are planted "green" roofs, designed to cool the interior and minimize water run-off.

The building itself will function as a teaching tool, giving students and faculty access to many of its sophisticated mechanical systems and monitors. A group of senior engineering majors is currently at work designing a fuel cell for the building that will demonstrate heat and power co-generation. Vivian Loftness, professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon and a design consultant for the Smith project, describes the new facility as "a unique, demonstration-quality building in which a new kind of education takes place. The building won't simply house research but will, itself, become part of the instruments."

The college expects to break ground on the new building in 2007, in the location of Green Street and Belmont Avenue, adjacent to the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts. The building is supported by a $10 million leadership gift from Ford Motor Company. Additional buildings have been envisioned as part of a long-term plan for a science and engineering complex in the area of Green and West streets.

More information about the new building is available at www.smith.edu/newbuilding. -- LF

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