Academic Accelerator in the Fertile Landscape
Discovery Hall is a testament to the success and aspirations of Rowan University in its mission to become a new model for higher education. The new academic building fulfills Rowan’s immediate need for additional academic and research space for the College of Science & Mathematics and provides a home for the new School of Earth & Environment. Designed as a holistic learning environment, Discovery Hall features active learning classrooms; teaching labs supporting chemistry, biology, specialized geology and paleontology, and environmental science programs; and faculty research labs centered around global challenges such as climate change, sea level rise, ocean destabilization, and biodiversity.
Envisioned as “an academic accelerator in the fertile landscape,” Discovery Hall extends learning into the surrounding natural environment through placemaking and extensive views. Three public volumes form a new front door to the academic core; these pavilions are organically placed to capture views that expose the soul of the building and house areas for collaboration and active learning. Juxtaposed is the ‘block’ of laboratory and research space organized in a modular framework to accommodate the required systems and provide a basis for flexibility and adaptability throughout the life of the building.
Inspired by the campus material palette dominated by red brick and cast stone, the exterior is clad in a blend of two warm gray brick tones; extended cast stone headers woven throughout add dimensional texture across the façade. Echoing campus materiality, the gray brick nodes to the earth’s natural materials while instilling a monolithic, weighted feel that roots the building in place. Thin brick cast at the same time as the exterior brick wraps the main public volumes on the interior. A two-story commons offers various seating environments for students to study, lounge, work, and collaborate with views to the landscaping, outdoor classroom, and sculpture beyond. Custom wall graphics on each floor highlight selected geographies of New Jersey: the palisades, coastline, pine barrens, and Edelman Fossil Park. Integral to the coursework of students and faculty who call these regions home or study them in the field, these geographics reinforce the connection of the program to the natural environment.