Knox College's Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center (SMC) is being re-imagined. A phased plan will deliver improvements to the student experience within the core of the building, while laying the groundwork for improvements to each of SMC's wings.
The renovation of the building's core began this fall and is expected to take 18 months, with classes being taught in the renovated space beginning with the winter term of 2020. Follow the renovation on the College's SMC Renovation Blog.
The first phase of the five-phase renovation will include an expanded atrium that will bring light into the space and offer seating and study areas for students and visitors. A central science commons will replace the two amphitheatre-style lecture halls on the main floor, offering a full range of technology-rich study areas as well as housing reference materials and offering space for students to work in groups or study alone.
The entire core of SMC's second floor will be devoted to teaching and learning, transforming the space now occupied by the science library into six modern classrooms. The largest of these will include a motorized wall that can be raised to accommodate as many as 96 students in a single room, or lowered to create two classrooms for 48 students. Surrounding this large classroom will be four smaller classrooms designed for classes of 24 to 36 students. Each will include a high-tech video display, walls lined with a variety of writing surfaces, and tables and chairs that can be easily rearranged when students need to work in groups.
Future phased renovations to the building, which will follow the completion of the core, will focus on the four wings that house the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics, physics and astronomy, and psychology.
Faculty will move into bright, windowed offices in glass-enclosed expansions on both the north and south faces of the building, across from the first-floor science commons and second-floor classrooms. These additions will bring scholars from every discipline in closer proximity to each other, further fostering an interdisciplinary community.
"The building will be brought to life in the interactions among our faculty and students in a new and extraordinary space," said Knox College President Teresa Amott.
The renovation comes on the heels of the College's recent addition of a new bachelor of science degree in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, mathematics, neuroscience, psychology, and physics. Knox has also recently added minors in astronomy and statistics and a major in environmental science.
"Knox has long been known for the quality of its science education," said Amott. "We were among the very first colleges in the nation to recognize that undergraduates could participate meaningfully in the work of scientific discovery and that undergraduate research and inquiry-based science were the most powerful tools imaginable for science education."
"With this renovation, that legacy of achievement moves into the 21st century," said Amott.
Rendering of the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center pictured above:
Cross-section of Expanded Atrium—This addition will bring light to the core of the building and offer seating and study space for students and visitors.
Science Commons—The central core of the first floor will be transformed into a science commons, housing reference materials and offering space for students to work in groups or study alone.
Second Floor Classroom—An adjustable wall at its center allows the room to expand to accommodate up to 96 students.
Atrium—A 55-foot whale skeleton will be on permanent display in the SMC atrium.