Montgomery College Unveils New Science Center at the Rockville Campus
“Green” Building Will Serve Growing Numbers of Students in Sciences and Largest Community College Engineering Program in the Country
Montgomery College dedicated the new Science Center at the Rockville Campus during a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning. With its four-story atrium, new laboratories, recitation rooms, and faculty offices, the 140,000-square-foot instructional building provides much-needed lab space at the campus for students increasingly seeking affordable, high-quality programs in science, engineering, and mathematics.
“The new Science Center will provide our students with innovative and interactive learning opportunities,” said Dr. DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College. “I look forward to seeing our science and engineering students achieve increasing levels of success—a key tool in increasing our completion efforts.”
Located on the south side of the Rockville Campus at the Mannakee Street entrance, the Science Center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, and geosciences. Montgomery College has the largest engineering program of any community college in the United States, with more than 1,100 students enrolled in the engineering transfer program.
In recent years, more students have enrolled in science, engineering, and mathematics courses than ever before, up 57 percent since 2000. Demands for additional courses, instructional space, and equipment strained aging facilities.
The new facility ensures both engineering and science students greater access to enhanced learning environments, 21st-century labs, and successful futures in the workforce or at four-year universities across the nation. The facility’s 29 new laboratories include 14 biology labs, nine chemistry labs and six physics/engineering labs. Among other features are a greenhouse and a rooftop observatory. The total cost of the project—design, construction, furniture and equipment—was more than $74 million, funded by approximately 50 percent each from county and state resources.
“Montgomery College is thankful for the support of our state and county leaders who share our vision for educating the next generation of scientists and engineers,” continued Dr. Pollard. “The funding for the Science Center is key to the future of Maryland’s growth as an innovation economy.”
The College expects to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council for the Science Center’s environmentally friendly design and construction. The Science Center features a green roof, high-efficiency chillers, solar panels, an underground cistern, and recycled construction materials. Part of the building’s architectural design includes eco-resin panels depicting elements of the solar system, hanging in the east entrance to the atrium, as well as a large ceiling fan that circulates air and accentuates the four-story ceiling.
Outside, grass terraces serve as an outdoor classroom, and a walkway provides students with direct contact to the stormwater management pond and other sites for outdoor experimentation and data collection. Other exterior features include native planting, extensive bicycle racks and a variety of seat walls.
Throughout design and construction, architects Stantec (formerly Burt Hill) and Cho Benn Holback + Associates, and construction firm Clark Construction worked with the College’s Facilities Office and faculty members, who also provided expert advice on what today’s science and engineering majors need to succeed. Highly qualified in their respective academic fields, faculty contributed ideas based on their experiences with students in the old buildings. One key suggestion was to create gathering spaces for students, whose classroom discussions often spill into hallways at the end of class.
The new Science Center marks the beginning of Montgomery College’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education growth at the Rockville Campus. Renovations to the Science East Building and Science West Building will enable the College to serve more students and enhance their experiences with modern classroom and math labs. Once complete, the three buildings will form a science/math/engineering complex, converging via connected hallways and walkways.