Cousins Center for Science and Innovation

The Oglethorpe University Cousins Center for Science and Innovation is a multi-disciplinary facility at the heart of the campus. Students are provided a unique campus hub for learning, research, collaboration, relaxation, events, and industry partnerships. Both science, business, and general courses are regularly taught in the facility, while the innovation hub supports a variety of unique industry partnership programs.

The project is located at the primary pedestrian crossroads on campus that is also the center of the historic collegiate gothic quadrangle. By locating the project on this paramount location, the center draws the Oglethorpe community from all sides of campus.

Design Challenge

At the initiation of the project, the design team and construction manager analyzed the cost and environmental impact of three approaches. These include; constructing a new building on a green site, demolish the existing building then build the new center in its place and finally conduct a phased addition-renovation, preserving the existing structure. The analysis determined that the most cost-effective and sustainable approach was an addition-renovation. The desire to preserve the existing building structure required dividing the construction of the project into multiple construction phases. In addition, the design prioritizes the goal to make existing and new spaces feel seamlessly revitalized. The university and design team were successful in finding temporary swing space while limiting the amount of time spent renovating the existing building so that all courses ran uninterrupted. The old dark corridors were reinvented by demolishing the walls and installing glass partitions with expansive views into the labs. Old ceilings were removed, and existing structure was painted white to increase the sense of volume in the learning environments. The existing stone exterior was preserved to become new interior accent walls within the expanded building. These design solutions provided for an innovative approach to the project that aligns with the objective to encourage collaboration between the business school and sciences. This sense of interdisciplinary collaboration was critical in making this center a campus wide hub.

Physical Context

The design team balanced the university goals to be contextually sensitive to the historic buildings on campus while demonstrating a passion for innovation. The design process started with a careful analysis of the proportions, scale, details, and materials of the historic architecture. These design influencers were applied to contemporary moments of the new building. The historic gothic architectural expression of stretching towards the heavens with spires, transparency, and light architectural elements are reflected through modern glass parapets, light and transparent curtainwall, varied mullions profiles that emphasize the vertical movement, and a sense of the ethereal. Unlike the original science building, the new Science and Innovation Center budgeted an appropriate amount of study commons, team rooms, social environments, and flexible event commons. This important program requirement has set up the center for emphasizing a new form of learning and collaboration. The learning occurs outside the classroom just as much as inside. In addition, major paths of student pedestrians pass around, or through the building. The location of the center was vital in encouraging students to enter the center where they would be encourages to stop and study, run into fellow student, or relax.