When Cleveland State University set out to update three chemistry labs, the goals were to engage students in the sciences, transform chemistry pedagogy, and enhance visibility for the science department.

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The original 1960’s laboratories were functionally obsolete and unattractive. Moreover, dated equipment and furnishings limited instruction, inhibited faculty-student interaction and restricted lab processes.

BHDP was charged with creating a balance between aesthetic, function, safety, and budget. With just 22 weeks to complete construction during the academic term and a construction budget of $600,000 ($1,000,000 overall), the team recognized an opportunity to redefine chemistry labs and the way of teaching at CSU.

The design transformed three static labs into two flexible chemical-free teaching spaces plus a separate stock room. Movable partitions which double as white boards allow the lab to quickly and easily transform from one large “theater in the round” space to two smaller teaching laboratories. Four-student lab stations promote project-based learning, team problem solving, and improve instructor access to students. The design provides improved visual access to science, providing a welcoming environment to display and promote the sciences in an effort to encourage more students to explore related careers.

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