2008 Facilities Roundtable Abstract

Transforming Science Teaching and Research

Enhancing Institutional Distinction

Furman University has a long history of outstanding science programs, despite living in aging 1950’s facilities. Led by Dr. Tom Kazee, the Provost and Dr. David Shi, the President, Furman decided to launch a new initiative aimed at transforming the science programs and simultaneously their obsolete facilities. To accomplish this Dr. Kazee and Dr. Shi utilized the full resources of the University: Board / Alumni / Leadership, as well as the faculty and students to forge a shared view of Science Teaching and Research for the new century. Using that Programmatic Vision in an extraordinarily collaborative design process, Dr. Kazee and Bill Gustafson of Ballinger Architects, created a physical expression to match the program ideal. This talk and discussion seek to tell the story of Furman’s transformation.

The Talk Outline
  • What’s Unique About the Furman Program?
    Four major disciplines were involved: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Earth / Environmental Sciences. Furman has long believed and practiced the combination of teaching and research as an undergraduate university. How could this new program retain the strengths of its departmental culture while promoting interdisciplinarity? (Dr. Kazee)

  • How Does One Build a Program that Emphasizes Engaged Learning for the Long Run?
    The conversations that led to a facility program were carefully orchestrated to allow leaders within Science and across the University community to contribute ideas about how science could flourish. This included industry outreach to alumni, the wisdom of Charles Townes, Nobel Laureate, and a Board of Trustees that saw the potential of science to be a beacon for future students coming to Furman. In the midst of this process, Dr. Townes received recogniton for creating the laser, one of the 20th century’s great breakthroughs. (Dr. Kazee)

  • Science in the Context of the Campus
    Plyler Hall, an aging 130,000 SF, two story linear building, sits at the front of the Furman Campus. Despite its age and obsolescence, we recognized that its location was perfect for creating outreach and draws that would attract scientists and non scientists to the building. To maximize this potential, scientists and architects collaborated to forge a program that combined the specific spaces to support science with the in between spaces that would work for the entire campus. (Bill Gustafson)

  • Design Strategies to Match the Vision
    Plyler Hall, with its 11’4” floor to floor heights and linear double loaded corridor form what would seem to be the worst possible building to try to transform. Despite these limitations, we tested various combinations of addition and renovation that yielded a spatial solution both inside and out. Specific design ideas will be discussed to illustrate how this was done. (Bill Gustafson)
    1. Creating an interaction and social character (Library, commons, lecture hall, breakout spaces)
    2. Developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy using both educational and energy saving ideas (Solar aquatics, light harvesting, photo voltaics, etc.)
    3. Seeking innovative technology to solve the problem (Chilled beam technology with integral lighting works with 11’4” floor to floor limits)

  • The Toughest Challenges to Achieving the Vision
    Dr. Kazee and Bill Gustafson will close the talk by discussing some of the obstacles to achieving this kind of comprehensive result. This will allow the audience to ask questions and hopefully take away useful ideas for their college or university. (Together)

  • Take Aways from the Talk
    1. This is a premier program that has evolved over 50+ years
    2. Its Vision of the future is grounded in teaching and research together
    3. The new / old facility is integral to the campus by location, by program and by intent
    4. The physical transformation reflects a desire for innovative and forward thinking at every level
    5. The consensus of the entire community of Furman drives its success: Alumni, External Supporters, Board, and Campus

The Presenters:
  • Dr. Tom Kazee, Provost, Furman University
  • William Gustafson, President, Ballinger Architects and Engineers