Weaving Design, STEM Learning and Landscape Together to Create Greater Opportunity for Students and a Beacon of Hope for the Community
Coppin State University’s Science and Technology Center is a building that addresses and fulfills the aspirations of the university, the students and the surrounding neighborhood. Coppin State’s desire to prepare its students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) required a new, state-of-the-art facility that would deliver increased opportunities for its high-minority student population to excel in STEM learning.
The design of the new building intentionally opens up the campus to the city as a place for optimism, transparency and hope. The building engages the neighborhood with a zone of teaching gardens, shallow site walls and landscape, all designed to allow for transparent visual connections and a comfortable and safe setting for the students. The adjacent green quadrangle, to be used for the commencement celebrations, is open to the public year-round and acts as a warm and welcoming gesture to share in the university’s success and the community’s pride.
A new set of broad campus steps link the lower level green quadrangle to North Avenue, a main east/west link to downtown Baltimore. These steps incorporate marble from the stoops of houses that were previously on the site to make a series of low stone benches at the edge of North Avenue. The steps also align with a focal point of the building, a cubic glass building volume which houses the faculty offices. The cube appears to float over the main building entrance and glow at night, revealing the activity inside.
The internal organization of the building was determined through numerous discussions with the faculty as well as a detailed program analysis. The design encourages faculty and students from different science departments to collaborate on projects that cross traditional departmental boundaries. All labs and classrooms are designed for project teams of two to eight people to work together as part of the STEM learning experience. General classrooms and computer labs for campus-wide use are included on the lower level. The entry level is active and vibrant, with exhibit space, a small café and a 100-seat lecture hall.