Lafayette College Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center

Architect: Payette

Owner: Lafayette College

Location: Easton, Pennsylvania

Project site: Previously developed land

Building program type(s): Education - college/university (campus-level)

Scale and materiality in a cherished campus setting

This building is the largest single investment by Lafayette College to date and was constructed concurrently with a 20% increase in the campus student population. The existing campus library already does not provide adequate and attractive student study space, so the new science center had to serve as more than a biology and computer science building. Despite its location, tucked away in the corner of an existing courtyard, the building was charged with providing robust spaces for science and a welcoming campus-wide destination. The solution was to create vibrant spaces of varying sizes to attract the entire campus community to meet and study. Upon opening in 2019, students immediately flooded the building and quickly dug into meaningful discussions and interactions in the variety of open and closed study spaces. The early months of operation have seen a constant bustle of both science, arts, and humanities students alike using the building at all hours.The overarching theme for this project can be considered “creating more with less”:

  • More exciting science and campus space in a very compact building on a very constrained site.
  • More teaching and research in less lab space through efficient sizing and layouts.
  • More spatial and experiential richness with a very modest budget.
  • More architectural impact with remarkably limited frontage on campus.
  • More inspired study and gathering space in a surprisingly small atrium.
  • More purposeful sense of space with fewer finishes and “raw” aesthetic.
  • More emphasis on ROI-driven performance with less on visible sustainable expression.

Consciously subtle in its portrayal of sustainability, this LEED Platinum building is confidently restrained, beautiful, and high performance. It has set the bar for sustainable building on campus, catapulting the college toward the president’s pledge of carbon neutrality by 2035.

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2017

Year of substantial project completion: 2019

Gross conditioned floor area: 103,061 sq ft

Number of stories: 6

Project climate zone: ASHRAE climate zone 4A

Annual hours of operation: 6,570

Site area: 31,000 sq ft

Project site context/setting: Urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $64,000,000

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 65,000

Project team

Acoustics: Acentech Inc.

Architect: Payette

Code: Code Red Consultants

Engineer - Civil: Langan

Engineer - MEP: BR+A Consulting Engineers

Engineer - Structural: The Harman Group

Envelope: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH)

General contractor: Turner Construction Company

Landscape: Payette and Langan

Lighting: Available Light

LEED Consulting: The Green Engineer



Erica Cochran Hameen, Assoc. AIA, Carnegie Mellon University

Lynn Simon, FAIA, Google

Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Marlon Blackwell Architects

Michelle Amt, AIA, VMDO Architects

Renee Cheng, FAIA, University of Washington

Image credits

The front face of a campus science building. It's exterior marries traditional red brick architecture with large section of modern floor to ceiling windows.

Robert Benson

The front of the campus science building at dusk. You can see lights througgh the floor to ceiling windows and how the brick exterior blends with existing campus buildings nearby.

Robert Benson

A student walks down an open study area, with plush chairs and whiteboard spaces. On the left is a glass-walled closed conference room.

Robert Benson

Seating areas scattered throughout the vertical statement stair.

Robert Benson Photography

View of a courtyard from above looking directly down on a patio and green space.

Robert Benson Photography

Courtyard in the foreground with a building with a two story glass lobby with two more brick stories with windows.

Robert Benson Photography

Two story sitting area with balcony above with the dynamic stair twisting above.

Robert Benson Photography