Architecture and technology merge theory and practice at LMU’s brand-new life sciences building
By Gary Walker
With the start of classes on Aug. 31, Loyola Marymount University students got their first look at the Westchester school’s brand-new 100,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building — the centerpiece of LMU’s decades-long campus master plan.
Designed to emphasize collaboration, transparency and open space, the $110-million glass-walled building boasts 35 teaching and research laboratories that encourage interaction between scientific disciplines and both lecture and lab work to occur simultaneously.
Tina Choe, dean of LMU’s Frank Seaver College of Science and Engineering, said the university’s goal was to put “science on display.”
LEED Gold-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, the three-story structure features a sloping “green rooftop” that doubles as a “living laboratory” for research on drought-tolerant landscaping and soil runoff.
“There is no other undergraduate science facility in the United States like this building, and I say that with confidence,” architect James Simeo, whose firm designed the building, said.
Laboratory classroom feature wireless projectors and moveable workspaces to facilitate instantaneous information sharing and collaboration.
“One of our guiding principles for this space is that learning science actually happens by engaging in science. We wanted to make sure that the spaces in here allowed our students to be actively engaged with each other and with our faculty,” Choe said. “It’s really about the integration of theory and practice in our labs.”
The first facility completed under the LMU master plan, the Life Sciences building also features a 273-seat auditorium and 373 underground parking spaces.
University leaders say the state-of-the-art facility will help LMU retain and attract leading faculty and encourage high-achieving students to enroll at LMU to attain science degrees.
With an LMU-supported science-and-technology curriculum at Playa Vista Elementary School, middle-school coding and robotics programs flourishing at The Incubator School nearby, and the 2010 conversion of Westchester High School to the Westchester Enriched Science Magnets campus, LMU is laying the groundwork for local students to transition to the campus.
“We’re already doing a lot of outreach at these schools, but with our new life sciences building we’re going to be doing a much more coordinated effort to reach out to these students,” Choe said.