A new $25.9 million, 70,070 square-foot science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building opened on the Jersey City campus of Hudson County Community College. Designed by Hackensack-based RSC Architects, the state-of-the-art complex consolidates and centralizes the college’s STEM programs into one location serving 700-750 students.
RSC served as the project’s architect-of-record and began the initial design work in 2014. Opened for the Fall 2017 semester, the new building is located at 263 Academy Street near Journal Square in Jersey City, with easy access to NJ Transit buses and trains. The site was formerly a parking lot for the school.
“STEM studies offer the greatest opportunities for well-paying, long-lasting careers and economic growth,” said Glen Gabert, Ph.D., president of Hudson County Community College. “We wanted a building that reflects our commitment to STEM and our students. One that is comfortable, secure, learning-focused, has the newest and best technologies, and encourages the kind of collaboration that leads to innovations that can improve life in the future.”
The new STEM facility includes 14 general classrooms; 10 science labs for the study of microbiology, genetics, and engineering; an open lobby design; an outdoor collaborative space; a multi-purpose room, and offices for administrative officials.
State-of-the-art equipment including autoclaves, incubators, ionizers, explosion-proof refrigerators and vacuum ovens were built into the labs. RSC worked closely with the college to create a design that would meet the distinct needs of each department.
“We had several meetings with each department to ascertain what they’d like from a new facility,” says Kenneth P. Mihalik, AIA, project manager for RSC Architects. “Each department stressed the need for larger spaces to fit an increasing roster of students and offer even more learning activities and opportunities than before.”
RSC designed classrooms and labs of various sizes. The firm created an exterior of the building made of curved glass and a curved roof to make it stand out from the traditional box-shaped buildings in the area. The most challenging aspect of the design was fitting a large structure into a small urban space.
“Building a large facility in the middle of an urban center like Jersey City is always tricky because of complex building code requirements. We had to get creative with the way we laid out the floor plan to maximize the space and maintain the high quality of the facility’s learning spaces,” continues Mihalik.
The US Department of Education found that students in classrooms with natural light have a 20 percent better learning rate in math and a 26 percent improved rate in reading. RSC paid careful attention to these statistics, creating an open floor plan to maximize natural lighting for STEM students. RSC intentionally designed the rear wall of the building to allow for the construction of a courtyard – creating a tranquil setting amidst an urban landscape for both students and faculty to enjoy.
The interior design includes earth tones featuring brown, yellow, and beige highlights, complemented with white walls to give the building a clean and open atmosphere. Each floor has a distinct accent color that not only differentiates the floors from each other, but inspires and excites the students in their daily learning activities.
Hudson County Community College is a public, comprehensive urban community college with nearly 10,000 students from Hudson County, one of the most densely populated and ethnically diverse areas in the United States.
The STEM Division of Hudson County Community College offers Associate in Science degree programs that prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions. Additionally, there are Associate of Applied Science and certificate programs that ready students for careers immediately after graduation.
“From education centers to healthcare facilities and government buildings, we are committed to creating a customized design that optimizes performance and fits the specific needs of each client. We are proud of the work we accomplished on the new Hudson County Community College STEM building, specifically the unique curved exterior that will set it apart from other buildings in Jersey City. We can’t wait to see what the students will accomplish,” says John P. Capazzi, AIA, president of RSC Architects.Related Articles: