University of Washington, Life Sciences Building
Project site: Previously developed land
Building program type(s): Education - College/University (campus-level)
More than one-third of all students at the University of Washington (UW) take courses in biology, the university’s largest department and the largest STEM program in the entire state. The Department of Biology needed a new facility to meet its growing demands while embodying the school’s core values of scientific discovery, innovation, collaboration, active learning, public education, and environmental sustainability. The completed state-of-the-art building elevates the Department of Biology and UW into the next generation of research, teaching, and environmental stewardship.
It's an impressive project, especially the memorable interiors and street presence. It’s out there and going for it. Struck by innovative use of vertical fins for solar. Stakeholder engagement process in the design phase was good; they looked beyond college-age students and included K-12 students and other constituents.
The Life Sciences Building (LSB) simulates an “ecotone”—the transition region between two biological communities. In both program and design, the technology behind LSB’s science and research intersects with the study of the natural world. At 207,000 square feet, LSB combines energy-efficient technologies with natural materials found in the Pacific Northwest, bringing the outside inward and placing education on display. To enhance the building’s relationship to the campus, students, faculty, and environment, LSB embraces three core concepts—science as a gateway, connections, and engagement.
With these concepts in mind, the design team planned open, flexible, and efficient teaching and research spaces, maximizing opportunities for collaboration. The central stair’s generous landings and breakout spaces create synergy between students, faculty, and researchers for sharing knowledge. A greenhouse located near Seattle’s largest pedestrian trail encourages the community to engage with the university and discover the science happening within. Innovative solar glass fins put science on display while generating enough electricity to light all offices year-round, helping achieve LEED Gold certification and meeting the AIA 2030 Challenge.
Much more than a building, LSB provides the foundation for innovative and collaborative cutting-edge research on climate change. It acts as a hub for student discovery, transforming the way we teach and how the next generation of scientists learn with sustainability at the core.