Swenson Science Building
The James I. Swenson Science Building for the University of Minnesota at Duluth is situated on one of the entry roads into campus with the Port of Duluth and Lake Superior providing a spectacular backdrop for the state-of-the-art facility. The building comprises inter disciplinary research and teaching laboratories for Chemistry, Fresh Water Ecology and Biology.
The program includes 16 undergraduate instructional laboratories for 2100 students and 16 research laboratories for faculty and postdoctoral researchers. The building also houses offices for faculty, graduate and postgraduate students, and the Biology department’s administration.
Exterior materials: brick, stone, corten and wood were selected for their historic and economic importance to the Minnesota northland. Teaching and research labs are day lit and include lab furniture and finishes featuring natural, locally found materials, particularly larch and oak wood.
A wild rice research laboratory built into the watershed creates a front yard and an outdoor learning space. The teaching and research wings join in a two story “Science Living Room” where students and teachers can interact in a space with spectacular views of Lake Superior. A spiral outdoor stair connects the Living Room to the wild rice outdoor classroom.
Client: University of Minnesota Duluth
Program: Academic teaching and research laboratory
Size: 108,000 sqft
Design Award of Excellence, American Society of Landscape Architects, Minnesota, 2007.
Merit Award, American Society of Landscape Architects, 2007.
Design Merit Award for Unbuilt Works, American Society of Landscape Architects, Minnesota, 2005.
Affiliated Engineers (ME Engineer)
Kornberg Associates Architects (Lab Planning)
Meyer Borgman & Johnson (Structural Engineer)
MSA/RREM (Civil Engineer)
Oslund and Associates (Landscape Architect)
Stanius Johnson Architects (Associate Architect)
Photography Credit: © Steve Hall, Hedrich Blessing
Founded in 1902, the University of Minnesota Duluth campus is adjacent to Lake Superior and a large nature preserve. The Swenson Science Building sits on one of the main roads through campus; welcomes visitors, students, and staff with an embrace of its site and context.
The Science Building acts as a literal and figurative gateway, immediately putting science on display for those that pass through campus.
The main hall was envisioned as a “Science Living-room”, providing unprogrammed, collaboration space and spectacular views of Lake Superior.
The Wild Rice research pond is the outdoor ecology classroom and is a seamless tie of building and landscape.