Harvey Mudd College, Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center
Project site: Previously developed
Building program type(s): : Education - college/university (campus-level)
A modern jewel on Harvey Mudd College’s Edward Durrell Stone-designed campus, the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center and its makerspace are a vibrant nexus for project-based learning. It’s the first-ever home for the school’s rapidly expanding computer science program, which was previously scattered across campus.
Harvey Mudd College, one of the seven Claremont Colleges in the foothills of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains, first opened its doors in 1957 as a STEM-focused college that emphasizes the humanities, social sciences, and the arts to broaden its students’ impact on society. The new LEED Gold-certified center is the campus’ second new academic building in 25 years, and it greatly enhances the college’s mission and serves as a new front door for the campus.
The building’s design reflects the natural formation of a canyon, with a pedestrian gateway that draws students and visitors from the street to the campus’ main spine, while the building’s transparency offers glimpses of activity inside. Like a time-weathered canyon, the building twists and shifts at each of its levels to scale down the presence of a massive building. The warm aluminum panels that comprise its dynamic facade reflect the sun differently throughout the day, creating a metaphor for the educational growth and transformation taking place inside.
"Simple things like the envelope truly have a significant impact and provide a different overall view. From an innovation standpoint, I really appreciate the work they put into it. They also really did a good job maintaining net-zero parameters." - Jury comment
The program, which serves the computer science department, includes labs, clinics, research and collaboration spaces, and departmental offices. Flexible spaces were a key component as the classes range from entry-level courses with between 60 and 100 students to upper-level classes of less than 40. A primary solution is three adjacent computer labs that can function as a singular space through an operable partition and glass walls with doors.
Additionally, the department’s adjacency to the makerspace fosters a range of interdisciplinary educational opportunities, which support faculty and student aspirations and highlight their talents. The makerspace was envisioned by the team and college leaders as one large, approachable space with a zoned layout that welcomes first-time visitors and experienced makers equally.
The project’s $29 million budget was quite modest for a higher education STEM facility in the region, but collaboration ensured the high-performing center achieved design excellence, net zero energy, and status as a new portal into the campus’ basement level where the machine shops await.