Lafayette College of Easton will begin construction on what it calls the largest capital project in the school's history at a cost of $75 million.
The groundbreaking for the Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center took place in Anderson Courtyard on campus Thursday afternoon.
The five-story building, expected to open in fall 2019, is geared toward scholars teaching and conducting research in biology, computer science, environmental science and neuroscience. The college will connect the center to the adjacent Acopian Engineering Center on Anderson Courtyard.
With a focus on the science, technology, engineering and math fields, the center is designed to attract students and faculty in a highly competitive market, college officials said.
The center is named for S. Kent Rockwell, a 1966 graduate and a benefactor of the 191-year-old college.
Lafayette will include its Ideal Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the building. This center is designed to bring together students, faculty and external partners to develop solutions to real-world problems. A large multiuse area anchored by a flexible maker space will serve as the new headquarters for Ideal.
Additionally, the Integrated Sciences Center will include a new Center for Inclusive STEM Education. College officials said this center is designed to address the pressing need to recruit more women and underrepresented minorities to the field.
The Integrated Sciences Center will focus on sustainability and feature an energy consumption benchmark far below that of peer science buildings, college officials said. The building could potentially earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification.
Environmentally friendly features include natural heating and cooling, stormwater retention and treatment and natural ventilation.
Boston-based architectural firm Payette designed the project. Turner Construction of Philadelphia is the construction firm building the project.
According to the design, three floors will be above ground, giving it a scale that matches neighboring buildings. Other features include extensive use of glass and a soaring atrium, with courtyards at and below ground level.
Aside from this new construction, Lafayette is embarking on a plan to add 40 faculty and 400 students over the next eight years.