Washington State University Plant Sciences Building

Pullman, Washington

Project Size:

82,476 square feet

Project Status:

Anticipated Completion 2019

Vision
Washington State University is a preeminent plant science research institution, committed to fostering its land-grant heritage and tradition of service to society. The new Plant Sciences Building is central to fulfilling this mission, promoting discoveries that advance the state’s agricultural industry as a key economic driver and contributor to global trade. Catalyzing interdisciplinary collaboration, the building integrates previously disparate research fields into a single state-of-the-art facility, and forms the newest addition to the university’s expanding Research and Education Complex.

Site and Program
The four-story Plant Sciences Building is the third of six buildings to be realized in WSU’s Research and Education Complex (REC), a precinct for interdisciplinary science previously master planned by LMN. The REC’s glazed central spine links alternating buildings to the east and west, interconnecting research departments to share core facilities and form the cultural backbone of the campus’ scientific community. The building establishes a new entry for the complex, featuring a metal and glass wall framed by a two-floor cantilever facing west towards Martin Stadium. This new outdoor space highlights a sculpted landform courtyard designed to accommodate both daily and event uses, celebrating arrival to the complex and fostering campus-wide gatherings.

Design
The new facility creates a social and interdisciplinary heart for the research complex. Designed for flexibility well into the future, the building hosts infrastructure for a variety of research needs beyond the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS). Upon arrival, a welcoming four-floor staircase encourages vertical circulation and provides important visual connections between floors. At every level, centralized social spaces link circulation elements with the REC’s spine, and fuel spontaneous collaboration within a communal core.

The building’s exterior reimagines the campus vernacular in a new architectural approach; a sculpted red brick veneer surface creates an expressive treatment to a high-performance precast concrete façade panel system. The panels integrate structure, insulation, weather barrier, interior and exterior finishes within a single prefabricated component, accelerating construction sequencing and enabling a bespoke composition of organically inspired brick surfacing. The resulting undulating brick pattern—made possible through CNC-driven formwork—casts shadows which animate the façade throughout the day in a dynamic play of light, unique to the eastern Washington Palouse experience.