Project File: Stepping forward

March 1, 2006
The Baylor Sciences Building at Baylor University, Waco, Texas

The Baylor Sciences Building at Baylor University's Waco, Texas, campus is a multidisciplinary center that carries the architectural themes of Baylor's historic structures. It replaces two, 30-year-old science buildings designed when the university was half its present size and science education was lecture-intensive instead of hands-on and research-oriented.

Three radial wings span out toward the campus. These research wings house the life sciences in the north wing, the physical sciences in the south wing and five multidisciplinary research/education centers in the central wing. A light-filled, 10,000-square-foot, four-story atrium promotes student interaction, and the visual and physical connections to the outside landscape and plaza.

Spaces progress from larger public areas and mid-size teaching classrooms to smaller teaching laboratories and controlled research labs in the wings. Modular lab design maximizes flexibility, with utilities in a three-foot space above the ceiling. Efficient design takes advantage of the sloped roofs to capture a penthouse floor that accommodates mechanical equipment and special labs.

The building's exterior design reflects a layered composition that rises from a stone base. The Baylor brick red exterior is embellished with cast-stone and brick accents, which add detail and humanize the scale of the building.

The architect is Harley Ellis (Southfield, Mich.).

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