Colorado School of Mines, CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering
“BCJ and AMD worked in collaboration with the Mines community, students, staff and faculty to create a facility that was state-of-the-art from all aspects: from pedagogy to scientific laboratories. The end result is a facility where great interactions occur, and the environment is at once inviting and inspiring. Amazingly, this is anywhere in the building—the atrium, classrooms, labs or the breakout rooms. Even the stairways are thoughtfully designed as possible areas for sitting and collaborating.”
In collaboration with Anderson Mason Dale Architects.
The CoorsTek Center for Applied Science and Engineering is the new home for both the Physics Department and the College of Applied Sciences and Engineering (CASE). This facility supports the departments’ vision: to capitalize on its cross-disciplinary strengths in science and engineering as they develop future leaders capable of addressing significant and evolving scientific and technological issues that challenge our world. The four-story, 95,000 square foot facility features flexible lab space and technologically advanced active learning classrooms that support the school’s evolving pedagogy. It has enhanced the partnerships between the college’s four departments and two programs including Physics, Chemistry and Geochemistry, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, the Materials Science Program, and the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program.
The Nature of Place
Sited at the emotional heart of the Mines campus, the Center opens to Kafadar Commons and provides strong physical and visual connections horizontally through its classrooms, gathering and event spaces, and student interaction and study spaces on the ground level. The Center fosters connections in all directions: at its eastern corner at Cheyenne Way, linking to downtown Golden to the north and Jalili Plaza to the southeast; and, perhaps most importantly, at Illinois Street to the west and 16th Street to the south, where it engages the significant student flow from academic buildings and the campus housing.
The Center offers prominent views to both the campus and the greater Front Range landscape. The full breadth of Kafadar Commons sits to the north, and the west garden and terrace sit adjacent to two of Mines most iconic buildings, Berthoud and Guggenheim Halls. Beyond, Mount Zion and the ‘M’ are visible from the northwest facing faculty offices, and laboratories and a terrace to the southeast claim views of Table Mountain.
The Nature of People
A stepped terrace bridges Kafadar Commons with a 250-foot-long glass-faced promenade, inviting Mines’ general student population through the building and into an open, light-filled atrium. Located on Level 1, media-intensive ‘Active Learning’ rooms are adaptable to fit the needs of a traditional lecture just as well as an art studio. These rooms were designed to allow for quick rearrangement as curriculum dictates, utilizing the time between classes. Outside the classrooms, the lively promenade—with panoramic visual connections to the outdoors—incorporates seating and collaborative work areas of varied types and scales, offering opportunities for both planned and chance encounters. These spaces emulate tech workplaces to create an open, dynamic environment that prepares students for post-college work-life.
The Center’s complex programmatic requirements, contrasted by the general classroom spaces on the main level, define the building’s organizational logic. While Level 1 is the public level, Levels 2 and 3 contain interdisciplinary teaching and research laboratories, and faculty and graduate student offices. Additional lab spaces with specific lighting, sound, or vibration requirements are tucked below grade. The relationships of all programmatic facets of research—offices, support spaces, services, and labs—were enhanced by the thoughtful orientation of spaces, visual connections to the outdoors, and glazing—either to provide glimpses from corridors into rooms or to provide daylight.
The Nature of Materials
The building’s design employs massing and materiality to connect to the site’s historical context and the omnipresent Front Range landscape. Its metal and glass facade is vertically punctuated by service cores clad in dark masonry, which help to anchor the building’s entrances. Floating horizontal masonry panels made of the signature pale brick used extensively throughout campus add visual interest and introduce a forward-looking aesthetic utilizing the historical palette. The northwest exterior, which fronts the popular campus green, Kafadar Commons, consists of full-height glazing at Level 1, and vertical glass panels and metal fins at Levels 2 and 3 that float above and modulate as influenced by the building’s interior program.