The faculty and students of Presbyterian College's (PC) biology department recently moved into their new home, a 28,600-sf building that houses teaching and research laboratories, faculty offices, and generous interaction spaces. Lassiter Hall, which was occupied in February, is a $12-million expansion project that adds a two-story wing to Richardson Science Hall, originally built in 1964.
A challenge of this project was to design a facility that would hold true to the Georgian architecture on campus while meeting the stringent ventilation and exhaust requirements of a modern science building. To meet these stringent requirements, Lassiter features a series of 12 roof dormers for air intake, and exhaust ducts that are concealed in four double chimneys matching the details of Richardson’s chimneys.
Lassiter’s program includes six general teaching labs for botany, plant taxonomy, parasitology, zoology, anatomy, paleontology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, and biochemistry. The two-story building also contains a life sciences core lab, a wet lab, three preparation labs, four student/faculty research labs, and nine faculty offices. The labs feature a deionized water system, flexible space, and improved safety systems. Students are no longer crammed into smaller classrooms, and the labs can be dedicated to teaching science subjects.
Another major challenge was the design of a connector between the existing building and the new addition. The result is a bridge that joins Lassiter’s and Richardson’s second floors, with an arched brick breezeway underneath. A main pedestrian walk runs under the breezeway and parallel to Lassiter. The connector, which is treated as an enclosed porch, has pre-finished wood floors, comfortable seating, and large expanses of glass overlooking the campus quad on one side and a formal garden on the other. By creating a warmer, more welcoming area, the connector’s inside and outside spaces have become two of the most popular on campus.
Lassiter’s two-story formal entry space is graced by a 750-sf ceiling mural titled, “The Spiral of Life.” The mural represents of the origin and the biology of life. It is laced with a DNA spiral connecting and intertwining with the plant and animal kingdom. The lobby also features a terrazzo tile floor and a glass exhibit case topped by the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Niches along the walls are for putting science on display, and one niche is a glass window that provides a view of an aquarium and, through it, a look into one of the labs.
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Richardson Hall originally housed the Presbyterian College’s biology, physics, and chemistry departments. Faculty and students were crammed into small, multi-use laboratories. Lassiter and the ongoing renovation of Richardson comprise the first phase of a two-part project. The next phase will be the construction of a new wing that mirrors Lassiter and will house teaching and research space for the chemistry department.
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