Aiming to advance the fields of science, technology, engineering and math through the built and natural world, the STEM Building was founded to house a diverse collection of initiatives and programs for students and educators across the region. Designed to foster innovation and collaboration, the STEM Building provides open and flexible areas inside and out for students to study and collaborate.
To reconnect and revitalize this abandoned area of campus, the scope included developing a recruitment strategy and a guided tour to attract young, talented students (from eighth-graders to college students) to the STEM program. This concept made the landscape itself a pivotal factor in the project, as the entire user experience starts outdoors—in space.
When arriving on-site, you are greeted by a large grove of preserved heritage live oaks planted by Stephen F. Austin himself. It is here where the built and natural world begins to blend seamlessly, and the story of the landscape begins. Students begin by weaving through a series of outdoor classrooms and built-in seating that provides a conducive learning environment. These spaces are anchored by the sun as the central dominant feature within the celestial model and solar system. The central feature also includes orbital rings with four inner planets and custom-built steel sculptures in the asteroid belt, depicting the planets in their proper rotation around the sun. To reinforce the landscape’s story, the solar system and sculptures were designed with radial and orbital natural stone bandings and laser-etched scientific formulas that represent multiple facets of our universe. The building entryway bandings are engraved with fill-in-the-blank scientific formulas that offer an engaging and unique opportunity for the student’s interaction.
Defined by campus branding and strong connections to the surrounding elements, an intuitive and transformative experience illustrates the range of possibilities for students in the field of STEM. Tying in long-term maintenance and campus standards with an innovative and inspirational design created a significant outdoor landscape for the STEM building that now serves as an educational and interactive piece for tomorrow’s leaders.
Stephen F Austin State University’s (SFA’s) Ed and Gwen Cole STEM Building
Location: Nacogdoches, Texas, USA
Architects | Kirksey Architecture
Landscape Architect | Kudela & Weinheimer
Interior Designer | Kirksey Architecture
Contractor | J.E. Kingham Construction Company
Civil Engineer| Two Fifteen Consulting
Descriptive Text | Dylan Furlong, Associate, Kudela & Weinheimer
Photography | Manny Jawa and Geoff Lyon