As the fall semester begins, Lafayette College in Easton officially opens its new $75 million Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center on Monday.
The 103,000-square-foot-project aims to integrate critical skills in science, technology, engineering and math while bringing together disciplines in biology, computer science, environmental science and neuroscience.
The college hopes the increased focus on collaboration and diversity will bring students enhanced learning opportunities to build skills that employers want.
Faculty have moved into the center and the college will have a formal dedication in September, said Alison Byerly, president of Lafayette College.
“This is really going to be a signature academic building for the college,” Byerly said. “The teaching spaces are designed for lots of flexibility. It shows our commitment to the future at Lafayette.”
The college connected the center to the adjacent Acopian Engineering Center on Anderson Courtyard and included its Dyer Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the building. The design aims to bring together students, faculty and external partners to develop solutions to real-world problems. A large multi-use area anchored by a flexible maker space serves as the new headquarters for the Dyer Center.
Additionally, the Integrated Sciences Center includes a new Center for Inclusive STEM Education, with the goal of addressing the need to recruit more women and underrepresented minorities to the field.
The connection between engineering and the sciences is very visible with the building, Byerly added.
“The spaces encourage collaboration and reflect the fact that the way we teach science here is very hands-on,” she said.
Overall, the center should help build skills useful in a job setting, she added.
“It will certainly help as we are in our growth mode,” Byerly said.
The center should help the college boost admissions, she said.
Every other year, the college has added about 50 new students. For this school year, the college admitted 701 students and 20 transfers, which is up from 635 students several years ago.
Lafayette College named the center after S. Kent Rockwell, a 1966 graduate and benefactor of the 192-year-old college.
Boston-based architectural firm Payette designed the project. Turner Construction of Philadelphia is the construction firm.
Construction began in 2017.