LMU Newsroom

The next generation of scientists are ready to start their work at Loyola Marymount University’s new Life Sciences Building, a $110 million project that sets the standard for science education in the 21st Century.

The 100,000-square-foot, three-story building houses programs in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, health and human sciences, and urban ecology. In its labs and classrooms, undergraduates will have access to equipment and technology that most college students would not be allowed to use until they begin a doctoral program.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to open the doors of this building to our students,” said Tina S.W. Choe, dean of the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering at LMU. “What’s so exciting is that with our new facilities, LMU will be at the forefront of educating the next generation of scientists for decades to come.”

Construction was completed in two years, with the first classes Monday, August 31. During the building’s 50-year lifespan, more than 60,000 students are expected to walk its halls and work in its laboratories.

“LMU’s goal for the new Life Sciences Building was to provide a cutting-edge space that would allow faculty and students to tap into the latest technology and grow as scientists,” said Matthew Wilt, project manager at C.W. Driver, which constructed the building. “As a result, the construction process also entailed a variety of technologies and innovative processes to deliver the new standard in science classroom spaces.”

The building’s main academic features include

  • 35 research and teaching laboratories
  • 9,000 square feet of faculty research space
  • A 273-seat auditorium with adjoining terrace
  • A three-story green roof that also acts as a “living laboratory” for research on soil runoff and drought-tolerant landscaping

The Life Sciences Building is also notable for its open design. The teaching laboratories have glass walls, allowing students and guests to observe the activity inside these rooms. This transparency encourages the sharing of knowledge, said Paul Zajfen, FAIA, design principal at CO Architects, which designed the building.

“Openness and transparency are hallmarks of our design, which puts science on display, encourages collaborative interaction, and engages the greater campus,” Zajfen said.

The guiding design principles were to create a space where students learn science by doing science, and where the barriers between the different academic disciplines are erased. Consequently, lab and office spaces are grouped together on the basis of shared research interests, rather than placing each field in their own silo.

The building was constructed and designed to qualify for LEED Gold rating, a recognition reserved for projects that show a high level of sustainability. Including the green roof, the building’s highlights in that area also include:

  • More than 8,200 square feet of solar panels that produce approximately 10 percent of the facility’s energy needs
  • A research garden to provide materials for natural science, botany and other classes
  • A solar screen on the west façade to reduce radiant heat
  • Independent climate control, chilled beams, and natural ventilation
  • Energy savings through daylight harvesting and high-performance glass

During the project, C.W. Driver provided internship opportunities for Seaver College engineering students, who learned first-hand how to manage a major construction project. One intern, Britney Calucag, was hired as a full-time project engineer by C.W. Driver after graduating in 2014 and helped oversee the completion of the building.