Exponentially Expanding a University's Interdisciplinary Science Programs

Webster University, Browning Hall, Interdisciplinary Science Building, Webster Groves, MO

After Webster University completed its comprehensive master plan, it was determined that in order to support greater academic collaboration and the region’s growing science and technical industry, the university needed to construct a new building that would transform the institution’s focus on interdisciplinary science. Working with students and faculty, we created an 88,000 sf, LEED compliant STEM building that triples the number of science labs on campus and houses the departments of anthropology and sociology, biological sciences, international language and cultures, nurse anesthesia, nursing, psychology and the institute of human rights.

Placing a large four-story structure within the campus’ intimate scale of existing buildings required careful consideration. The dense building plan has two wings: one housing sciences and the other humanities. They revolve around a vertical circulation which connects common spaces on all levels. The building steps down toward the center of the campus – its form and scale complementing the existing architecture. The auditorium, placed on the lowest level, has access to a newly-created garden.

The building envelope consists of vision glass and fritted glass, which, together with vertical fins, protects classrooms, laboratories and office space from excessive sunlight. At night, the building casts soft light on its surroundings and reveals the interior activities to passersby.