The recent dedication of Austin College’s IDEA Center in Sherman, Texas, celebrated the realization of the College’s long-standing vision for an interdisciplinary home for the sciences.
“The beautiful building behind me – and the living laboratory around its exterior – gives us good reason to celebrate,” said Austin College president Marjorie Hass before a gathering of trustees, donors, and the wider campus community.
Following the event, Shepley Bulfinch principal Elise Woodward said, “Walking through the IDEA Center at its dedication was the wonderful culmination of more than a decade of engagement with Austin College.
“The building sets a vibrant new identity for hands-on science teaching and research. It will serve the Austin College community’s passion for science well in the decades ahead, and advance the College’s efforts in recruiting and retaining top science faculty and students.”
The IDEA Center expands opportunities for faculty-student research and facilitates access to research and information with contemporary classrooms and multi-purpose labs that support hands-on, experiential science curricula. The center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics, and physics, and features 32 laboratory classrooms, 40 offices, 16 lecture rooms, and a 108-seat auditorium.
The building itself also acts as a scientific instrument: while it is crowned by the rooftop Adams Observatory, a gnomon hole in the roof transforms the Center’s atrium into a solar observatory, tracking the movement of the sun through the day and year.
The sustainable features of the energy-efficient building, which is pursuing LEED Silver certification, include solar shading and natural light, efficient mechanical systems, and rooftop rainwater collection for irrigation of native landscaping.