WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- A sparkling three-story atrium is the central showpiece for a new $13-million, 35,000-square-foot science building that stands ready to greet students returning to Whitman for the fall semester.

Featuring a brick-and-glass veneer, the new structure connects to the existing science complex (two buildings constructed in 1963 and 1981).

As work on the new building enters its final stages, a $7-million renovation has begun of the older buildings, which encompass 65,000 square feet. Renovation work, divided into three phases, is slated for completion by next August.

The new building's light-filled lobby and atrium, with its skylights and glass walls, will become the setting for displays of science collections and student work, receptions following public lectures, and other events such as sessions of the Whitman Undergraduate Research Conference.

The building will also offer live-action views of the sciences in action. As science students and faculty members conduct research, other students and campus visitors can look through the wide windows into the various laboratories.

"We're looking at this building as a way to showcase the sciences," says chemistry professor Chuck Templeton. "With windows into the labs, visitors will be able to see science happening. We're trying to demystify science, make it more visible and important to students."

Templeton, the faculty liaison for the project, says the "most exciting, most critical" aspect of the building design is its emphasis on creating space that is "more inviting, open, comfortable and friendly."

"It will be bright, with lots of light coming in and lots of interactive space where students and faculty can sit down and talk or work together," Templeton adds. "At night, the building will be lit up, and from the outside we will be able to see the students working."

"It will make science come alive."

For more information about the science building projects at Whitman, please check the following links to articles that appeared in the December 2000 issue of Whitman Magazine