State of Science Art

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Life Sciences Building timelapse

Life Sciences Building

In 2010, LMU declared a new commitment to the sciences: The Life Sciences Building would be among the first projects of the university’s ambitious new 20-year Master Plan to come to fruition.

Five years, $110 million, 9,000 square feet of faculty research space, and more than 1 million feet of electrical wiring later, it’s here — along with 35 teaching and research laboratories and one dramatic green roof that will also provide research opportunities.

The 103,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building is home to LMU’s programs in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, health and human sciences, science education and urban ecology. It’s also the cornerstone of what will become the Seaver College Complex, including Pereira Hall for engineering and Seaver Hall for physics and mathematics.

The Life Sciences Building was designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and break down the silos among the different areas of study. That’s why faculty and students from different disciplines will use the same research equipment and work side-by-side.

S.W. Tina Choe is dean of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, and she previously served as chair of the Life Sciences Building project.

“Back in the ’60s, the idea was that faculty projects were fairly individualized — but there has been a pendulum shift,” said Choe. “Today, our faculty regularly work together with students and collaborate with each other across departments. It’s not only the trend in education, but it’s reflective of what students will encounter when they leave LMU.”

The structure’s design also is meant to put science on display and showcase the work of faculty and students — which is why the building is so spacious (and why it contains so much glass — 4,200 square feet). Biology coursework will incorporate the 25 drought-resistant plant species on the building’s grounds, and environmental science classes can monitor the storm water retention system for pollutants. Even the construction of the building was educational, in that it provided LMU’s civil engineering students an opportunity to study soil properties and structural engineering in the context of a real-time, real-world building project.

Finally, the Life Sciences Building embodies LMU’s commitment to sustainability. More than 8,200 square feet of solar panels will generate 10 percent of the facility’s electricity. Plenty of other innovative strategies — low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-performance glass, independent climate control — demonstrate why the building is expected to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

During the next 50 years, an estimated 60,000 science students will walk the halls of LMU’s Life Sciences Building, which will provide crucial infrastructure for a rich undergraduate education and prepare students for graduate school and beyond.

“The premise is that students will learn science by doing science, integrating concepts with practice to prepare future scientists,” says Choe. “By design, the building also fosters an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to addressing key research questions. The building will not only keep the university competitive in the sciences, but also will facilitate teaching in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions.”

Go to LMU Magazine to see a diagram that highlights features of the Life Sciences Building.