Park School of Buffalo recently opened its new Knopp-Hailpern Science Center, a project that will significantly advance science learning opportunities for students. It is the first new academic building on campus in more than 50 years. Business First of Buffalo recently published a new piece celebrating the project’s opening. In the article, Martin Berardi, co-chairman of the Science@Park capital campaign shared that, “(the building) sits in a perfect location.” And Julie Knopp, daughter of one of the two late Park School math teachers the building is named after, added: “The center fosters the spirit of inquisitiveness and discovery that both men encouraged in their students.”
At 11,400 sf, the science education building offers students five state-of-the-art classroom spaces. The purposeful decision to leave the ceilings exposed and utilities visible helps The Park School put science on display for its students each day. This concept of science on display is amplified thanks to the extensive use of glass curtain wall throughout that allows staff and students to always be connected with the outdoors. The building includes an interactive space geared for younger learners, the Berardi Field Station, designed with a glass overhead door for easy access to the nearby pond and marsh to help students move between the building and surrounding outdoors quickly to conduct research and advance their studies.
The Knopp-Hailpern Science Center embraces nature on numerous fronts. The positioning of the building on the site minimizes subsurface disturbance while following the natural contours of the hill to further reduce its footprint and minimize the impact to nature. Wood and stone are key design elements throughout the space and our strategic design helps maximize their impact without overuse. Color tones in the classrooms allude to nature, and even the carpeting design makes reference to pebbles within the surrounding water environments. A two-story clearstory with transoms even helps filter light deep into the center of the space to ensure students and staff have access to it even when in the heart of the building.
As part of the overall project, the School commissioned an environmental assessment of the 26,500-sf pond on campus to determine its health, which was confirmed to be unhealthy for plant and aquatic life. To remediate, a 260-foot-long mechanically fed stream was built into the landscape, using the Onondaga Escarpment as its beginning. The three upper waterfall cascades have a total drop of 12 feet, and along with the three small cascades and gravel streambed below, will help aerate the water returning to the pond. The cascades and stream course are beautiful to look at and provide the wonderful sound of moving water.
The Stream Corridor and pond are intended to serve as an extension of the Knopp-Hailpern Science Center and help support academic programs in biology, environmental science, physics, botany, and more.