When I was an undergraduate at [insert state university name here] most of the biology and chemistry teaching labs we undergrads worked in were purely utilitarian spaces for bench work and all had seen better days. In fact, they looked more like my high school science labs. My high school labs might have been nicer.
But there is no reason why even lower level science should not be taught in an aesthetically pleasing space. For some undergraduates, lower level science courses are a requirement that must be knocked off the graduation to-do list. Why not make the experience more exciting?
Johns Hopkins University has constructed 105,000 square feet of new undergraduate laboratory teaching space on the far side of Mudd and Levi Halls on the Homewood campus. The space beautifully integrates into the natural surroundings offered by the Buffano Sculpture Gardens. The open feel is extremely important, I think, because it allows so much natural like to come in that it could make that time in lab section, which can seem never-ending, into something much more tolerable–even enjoyable.
Undergrads studying chemistry, biology, biophysics, neuroscience and psychological and brain sciences will be using the 20 labs that were created with the new space. The philosophy behind the design of the building is to encourage cross disciplinary collaboration, which as many know is something that Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology strives for in all of its endeavors. It is nice to see that same kind of sentiment carried out in a physical way in this new campus structure.
For now, the addition is just being called the UTL (undergraduate teaching laboratories) building. The core of the structure includes space for nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and tissue and cell culture. Lab space connects to the adjacent academic buildings via mingling areas, ample seating, faculty offices, a large biology research lab, a computer lab, seminar rooms, a coffee bar and more.
I recommend walking over to the UTL yourself and having a look around if you are on the Homewood campus. If not you can watch this video. It will make you want to register for a chemistry class like a freshman. No, joke. This building is a work of art and an amazing addition to the already beautiful Homewood campus.
Read the story about the new laboratory building here.