Not your father's computer science building

Computer science programs across the U.S. are designing new buildings to foster collaboration, hand-on instruction, and interdisciplinary learning.

Computer science building boom

College campuses across the U.S. are building news computer science facilities that encourage hands-on education and interdisciplinary research. Long, empty hallways are avoided. Labs are on display instead of tucked in basements. Circulation spaces become opportunities for students and professors to mingle and collaborate. Pictured is Bill & Melinda Gates Hall at Cornell University; read on for details about this and other new compsci campus facilities.

RELATED STORIES: Computer science surge sparks campus building boom | Maker spaces boost student tech innovation

Gates hall Cornell

Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Bill & Melinda Gates Hall is the new home of Cornell University’s Computing and Information Science (CIS) unit, which includes the departments of computer science, information science, and statistics. Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects designed the 100,000-square foot building (pictured above and on previous slide), which was completed in the fall of 2014. The textured exterior is constructed of perforated stainless steel panels that are designed to shade the sun while allowing daylight. Construction of the Gates Hall was funded in part by a $25 million donation from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

trinity university san antonio

Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas

Trinity’s Center for the Sciences & Innovation (CSI) is designed “to encourage interdisciplinary research and productive collisions among students, faculty, and members of the Trinity community,” the school says. CSI’s energy-saving features helped Trinity secure $1.3 million in rebates from San Antonio’s municipally owned energy utility. Completed in the fall of 2014, the $127 million building was designed by EYP Architecture & Engineering in partnership with RVK Architects.

uc merced science and engineering 2

University of California, Merced

Designed to foster interdisciplinary work for researchers across the university, the Science and Engineering Building 2 opened in the summer of 2014. The $88 million building has a number of green features: photovoltaic shades generate 52 kilowatts of solar energy to help power the building; a solar water-heating system on the roof handles all of the building’s hot-water needs; and 40% of the materials used in the building’s construction are recycled or reclaimed. SmithGroupJJR provided architectural services on the project, and Research Facilities Design served as laboratory design consultants.

univ washington bothell discovery hall

University of Washington, Bothell

Discovery Hall, which opened for classes in the fall of 2014, is home to the UW Bothell School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The $68 million building was designed by THA Architecture and is the first building to be constructed on the UW Bothell campus in 10 years.

george washington univ seh

George Washington University, Washington, DC

Construction just wrapped up on GW's new Science and Engineering Hall (SEH), which opened this month. Designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration, the 500,000 square-foot facility is the home of research and education for fields including cybersecurity, high performance computing, nanotechnologies, robotics, and biomedical engineering. Green features included: a roof garden to help cool the building and reduce rainwater runoff; a graywater system for reusing rainwater; and water-chilled beams for cooling. The architect for the project is Ballinger.

Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.

The new School of Engineering and Computer Science at Oakland University opened in the fall of 2014. The 127,000-square-foot facility was designed by SmithGroupJJR.

cornell tech campus

Cornell Tech, New York City

Construction is underway on the Roosevelt Island campus of Cornell Tech, an institute that grew out of a partnership between Cornell University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology. The school aims to bring faculty, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and students together in an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration. It has been operating out of a temporary campus in New York City since 2012. When fully completed, the Roosevelt Island campus will include 2 million square feet of buildings and more than 2 acres of open space across a 12-acre site. The first phase is scheduled to open in 2017. The campus master plan was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with James Corner Field Operations.

cornell tech morphosis

Cornell Tech academic building

The first academic building at Cornell Tech is under construction. The designer is Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects. The building will have an open plan and collaborative work spaces, and it's designed to be among the largest net-zero energy buildings in the U.S., with all of its power generated on campus.

cornell tech weiss manfredi

Cornell Tech corporate co-location building

Startups and established tech companies will have a home at Cornell Tech in a corporate co-location building, designed by Weiss/Manfredi and developed by Forest City Ratner Companies. It’s being built as part of the first phase of Cornell Tech.

univ of illinois urbana champaign ece

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Completed in the summer of 2014, the new Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign includes an undergraduate nanofabrication lab to give students hands-on experience with micro- and nanoelectronics. The school’s Open Projects Lab gives students access to equipment for use in non-classroom projects. The $95 million building is meant to produce as much power as it consumes; solar arrays on the building’s roof and on the roof of a nearby parking structure will provide electricity. SmithGroupJJR served as design architect, lab planner, structural engineer and landscape architect.

univ delaware ayers saint gross

University of Delaware, Newark

The Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab) at University of Delaware opened in the fall of 2013. The building has two wings: a teaching wing and a research wing that includes an imaging and microscopy suite, a 10,000 square-foot nanofabrication facility, and an advanced materials characterization lab. The building was designed by Ayers Saint Gross.

north dakota state univ stem

North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND

A new STEM building is under construction at North Dakota State. The 109,000 square-foot building will include labs and traditional science and engineering classrooms as well as modular “open frame” flexible classrooms. “Most of the current classrooms and laboratories are 40-100 years old and do not have the technology, infrastructure or environment required to meet the teaching needs of the University today or in the future. In addition, the shortage of classroom and limited office space on campus has made it difficult to renovate outdated, deteriorating academic buildings,” the university says of its need for a new STEM building.

univ texas austin gates pelli
Paul Finkel

University of Texas, Austin

The Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall officially open in 2013 at The University of Texas at Austin. The complex, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, has 10 research clusters that are designed to encourage collaboration.

univ utah lassonde studios

University of Utah, Salt Lake City

Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah isn’t a traditional computer science facility, but it’s indicative of a trend toward more hands-on, entrepreneurial instruction in higher ed. Part residence hall, part lab space, Lassonde Studios is designed as a place for student entrepreneurs to “live, create, launch.” The 148,000-square-foot building will combine 412 residences for students with a 20,000-square-foot “garage” space where students from any major can connect, test ideas, build prototypes and work to launch companies. The facility is under construction and expected to open in late 2016. (The school is currently recruiting its inaugural batch of student entrepreneurs.)