Sneak peek at new MCLA science center

Thursday May 5, 2011

NORTH ADAMS -- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' vision for its new $54.5 million Center for Science and Innovation was made much clearer on Wednesday when members of the project's design team presented the first architectural renderings of the building.

Members of the Boston-based architecture and engineering firm of Einhorn, Yaffee, Prescott (EYP) gave two presentations, one to a lunch meeting of about two-dozen project stakeholders -- college trustees, local science and engineering-based businesses, local legislators and the like. Afterward, EYP presented to the campus community at large.

The project is being funded and supervised by the state Division of Capital Asset Management.

EYP presented drawings and schematics for a three-story facility of about 65,000 gross square feet. The exterior is an ochre yellow similar to Murdock Hall, and blends both classic and contemporary architectural features.

"Seeing this begins to make it all feel more real," said MCLA President Mary Grant.

The design process of the project began more than a year ago, and Wednesday's presentation marked the first of three phases in which the design will be rendered.

To be located in a space between Blackinton and Porter streets, groundbreaking for the projects is expected to take place this fall.

EYP senior associate and science expert Bob Pahl, spent much of the past year consulting with faculty members to help outline a design that will fulfill the needs of academic instruction and enrich the learning process in the science fields.

He said professors most wanted a space where interdisciplinary instruction could take place within state-of-the-art labs and research space.

"The whole building's a classroom," Pahl said.

Another design goal was to earn a Silver rating within the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system.

Geothermal and solar energy systems, efficient window placement and a rooftop greenhouse are among the design traits incorporated to qualify the center for this LEED rating.

Those attending Wednesday's presentations overall approved of the design.

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said he would like to see the roadways and paths in the vicinity of the new building to be further used to create a corridor between the college and the city.


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