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Computer Science Surge Sparks Campus Building Boom

By Network World

March 25, 2015

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Colleges and universities across the U.S. have been building new facilities to keep up with expanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. As they add capacity, these institutions also are rethinking how STEM facilities should be designed.

"The buildings that we're designing now are really about engaging people in the sciences," says EYP Architecture & Engineering's Leila Kamal.

Fewer traditional lecture halls, easily accessible labs, and more circulation spaces are hallmarks of modern STEM architecture. STEM always has been an early proving ground for ideas about interdisciplinary learning because of the natural relationships among the subjects.

Students want "opportunities to meet with other interdisciplinary groups, to formulate ideas, to fabricate ideas, to test and prototype and, ultimately, to meet with individuals outside of the university setting that could help them realize implementations of these ideas," says Mark Thaler, education practice leader at global design firm Gensler. "We're investigating ways to create spaces that are adaptable, multimodal, and flexible."

State-of-the-art research facilities and lab space also can be a major draw for prospective students. In 2014, colleges and universities spent $9.8 billion on the construction of new facilities, building additions, and renovations, up 20 percent from 2013. There has been particular growth in STEM projects over the last five years.

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