LMU Newsroom

New Building to Promote Hands-on Science


To cheers and the turning of dirt with ceremonial shovels, Loyola Marymount University broke ground Monday for its new $110 million Life Sciences building, which will keep the Jesuit and Marymount school a leader in the sciences into the 21st century.

Construction is to be complete in two years, with the first classes taking place in the new building in the 2015-16 academic year. During the building’s 50-year lifespan, more than 60,000 students are expected to walk its halls and work in its laboratories.

“This is an essential and remarkable moment in the life cycle of LMU,” said President David W. Burcham. “The Life Sciences building speaks to our hearts and our minds. It is infrastructure we need to continue the intimate learning that is the hallmark of an LMU education.”

Richard G. Plumb, professor and dean of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, released details and architectural drawings of the planned 103,000-square-foot building. It will house programs in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, health and human sciences, science education and urban ecology.

“Students will benefit from the functionality of the building itself, and from the exceptional equipment within,” said Plumb. “Our undergraduates currently have access to equipment that most students would not be allowed to touch until they began their Ph.D. programs. Having access to state-of-the-art equipment available in the new building will give students an enormous advantage when they apply to graduate school, dental, optometry or medical school, or pursuing careers in the allied health fields.”

The new Life Sciences building will form the cornerstone of what will become the Seaver College Complex, including Pereira Hall (for engineering) and Seaver Hall (for physics and mathematics). The building will be constructed west of Pereira Hall in the footprint of an existing parking area. Beneath the new building will be parking for 372 vehicles.

The guiding design principles were to create a space where students learn science by doing science, where their interdisciplinary work and science are part of the teaching process. A distinctive feature of the building will be its open design. The goal is to foster collaborative learning among students and faculty, with 34 teaching or research laboratories, and multiple open “collaboration” spaces to foster discussion and teamwork.

The building was created through an extensive planning process that involved staff, faculty and the architects, CO Architects of Los Angeles. C.W. Driver of Pasadena is the general contractor. Both companies have extensive experience in building science and medical research facilities. Anthony Mason of AMA Project Management in Los Angeles is the project manager.  During the project, C.W. Driver and its subcontractors will provide internship opportunities for Seaver College engineering students, who will learn first-hand how to manage a major construction project.

Burcham called the Life Sciences building “the kind of infrastructure and the kind of upgrade that we need to stay competitive and to meet the needs of our students.”

The building’s other main academic features include:

  • 50 faculty and staff offices
  • 34 teaching or research laboratories
  • 7,300 square feet of laboratory support space
  • 3 conference rooms
  • A green roof and outdoor laboratory

The Life Sciences building will place “science on display.” Selected classrooms and laboratories will have glass walls, allowing students and guests to observe the activity inside these rooms. This transparency encourages the sharing of knowledge and learning in a collaborative way. The building’ design empowers interdisciplinary study and interaction; not only student to student, but student to faculty, and faculty to faculty. The building will also include:

  • Renewable technology that generates approximately 30 percent of the facilities energy
  • A research garden to provide materials for natural science, botany and other classes
  • A 292-seat auditorium – with adjoining 1,800-square-foot terrace
  • A solar screen on the west façade to reduce radiant heat
  • A displacement air system for faculty offices rather than air conditioning.  LMU’s proximity to the ocean makes this workable
  • Designed to meet LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — silver rating, a highly sought and difficult-to-achieve rating.