The Science, Engineering, and Information Commons Building on Germanna Community College’s Fredericksburg campus supports the school’s mission to provide increasing educational and economic opportunities to its students. Housing science classrooms and laboratories for chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering as well as a central Learning Resource Center for students and faculty, this facility generates stimulating educational experiences and enhances collaboration between students and professors. The design philosophy of the interior spaces is driven by the facility’s need to provide “future-proof” learning environments, encouraging interactive learning through technology, individual research, and hands-on experiments.
The Learning Resource Center provides students with access to computer stations, a multimedia center, and study zones among traditional library services, housing approximately 12,000 volumes. Faculty, IT, and security are also accommodated, along with separate break and conference rooms for staff.
Rising above the Learning Resource Center is the “Great Wall,” behind which the faculty and staff offices are located. The Wall conceptually delineates the structured learning in the labs and classrooms from the flexible individual learning that occurs in the library. Collaboration spaces are designated between the office pods to foster personal connections between faculty and students and provide meeting spaces.
The facility received LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A wind turbine powers outlets near benches in the bio-swale garden, and water is harvested from the building runoff to flush the toilets; the building concurrently uses and teaches sustainable design. Renewable energy elements such as a green roof, smart energy management controls, and displays on view in the glass-faced mechanical room allow for education both in and out of the classroom.