The University of North Florida (UNF) has opened its $39.4m advanced biological sciences building, which has been designed by Perkins+Will in a joint venture with Harvard Jolly.
The four-storey, 117,000ft2 facility, houses six specialised educational programmes in its department of biology, including the coastal biology flagship program. Construction on the facility started in July 2010 and was funded by public education capital outlay funds.
The building’s interior courtyard has a garden named Darwin’s Garden, which is home to plants from Florida and will also be used as a botany lab.
An illustration, called the tree of life, has been etched on the outside glass façade of the first floor conference room. The diagram rises three storeys and describes life on earth, as organised by DNA properties.
Perkins+Will science and technology expert Jose Bofill said that the company has sought to integrate the building’s design with its high-tech educational mission.
"And as a biological sciences building, we placed great emphasis on creating an experience that gives its visitors and users a feeling of life itself," Bofill said.
The facility has 17 teaching labs and 28 faculty research labs, 37 offices, office and laboratory support space and a conference room on each floor. The building is home to four lecture halls, which includes one with 192 seats, a multi-purpose classroom with 48 seats and two 48-seat classrooms.
Sustainable elements in the building, which aims to achieve LEED gold certification, offer a 30% reduction in water consumption and a 20% reduction in energy use; the facility also features design elements that maximise natural light, whilst occupancy sensors in the building help monitor indoor CO2 levels and regulate air quality throughout the facility.
The design of the building and the construction materials used were intended to be complementary to surrounding buildings, including the nearby College of Liberal Arts and Sciences facility.