Eckerd College James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences / New hardened precast teaching lab/research facility / 55,000 GSF

Eckerd College’s new Center for Molecular and Life Sciences houses the Chemistry, Biology and Biochemistry programs and features teaching laboratories, classrooms, faculty-student research spaces, faculty offices, collaborative meeting spaces, fabric-structures for covered courtyards, a greenhouse and multiple study areas. The one-story building is massed as two wings connected by a central lobby that can be opened to the outside, with airlocks to separate the lobby from the wings.

LEED Platinum Certified, all classrooms and labs retain negative air pressure and use a “Building Dashboard” system to visually monitor energy consumption levels in each room. Over 30 percent more efficient than standard buildings, sensors throughout the building monitor activity and occupancy through carbon dioxide emissions adjusting indoor air quality based on occupancy load. All cabinetry is bamboo and window coatings and a reflective “cool roof” provide energy efficiency and is 1.5 to two times more airtight than a traditional roof. A unique, innovative efficient cooling system uses reclaimed water from a nearby city reclamation plant, saving thousands of gallons/day and eliminating the need for a cooling tower. The main entry courtyard features fabric structures (hardened to category five) for energy efficiency and provides a covered assembly venue.

The project scope included development of the 21-acre site within the occupied campus; utility and infrastructure extensions and relocations, major roadway relocation, storm water collection and retention, parking and landscaping. Constructed on a coastal site within an A-Flood Zone, the existing site was four feet above sea level with FEMA requirements for floor elevation 9.5 feet above sea level. The building’s first floor is 11 feet above sea level. Fill dirt required for foundations was recycled from the excavation of an onsite pond which doubles as a storm water control feature while providing an additional on-site aquatic habitat, which was greatly desired by the biology faculty. Construction is precast complex hardened with impact glass windows and doors.