August 08, 2013

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By Heather Johns

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Academic West, the newly completed 70,000-square-foot building on Bucknell University's South Campus, has 125 windows, 102 computers, 65 faculty offices and 16,200 square feet of classroom space.

But numbers alone don't tell the whole story of the first academic structure in the single-largest building project Bucknell has ever undertaken. Academic West will be LEED-certified, the nexus of a new academic quad, the first new academic building constructed at Bucknell since 2004 and the cornerstone of Bucknell's bricks-and-mortar future.

Academic West houses the economics, environmental studies, geography, international relations, Latin American studies, political science, and sociology and anthropology departments. Its summer 2013 opening has resulted in office moves for faculty and staff across campus. An online list shows those who have moved, along with their new offices and phone numbers. Email addresses remain the same as before the move and can be found in the online faculty and staff directory.

The three-story Academic West houses five tiered classrooms ranging in size from 50 to 70 seats, as well as four flat-floor, 42-seat classrooms with flexible seating arrangements; offices; laboratories; meeting areas and hearth spaces — all constructed with one overarching purpose in mind: "Academic West was designed to encourage student-faculty interaction outside the classroom," said Dennis Hawley '72, M'73, associate vice president for facilities.

Academic West uses glass partitions instead of walls to define flexible breakout spaces which are wired so that multiple laptops can plug into one outlet, allowing users to toggle between their computer displays on a large screen. "We made sure to include unscheduled areas, as well," said Hawley, including conference rooms and project spaces.

Classrooms are equipped with distance learning technology, such as microphones and cameras. Faculty podiums feature built-in document cameras, which are a kind of a high-tech opaque projector, as well as lecture capture cameras and touch screen displays that control window shades, temperature and other room variables.

Academic West has an 8,000-square-foot vegetated roof verdant with several varieties of sedum, a succulent plant that absorbs rainfall and provides insulation, as well as opportunities for faculty and student research.

The building's storm management system masquerades as a series of rain gardens, the first tier of which is surrounded by a sitting wall, and reintroduces water to the natural system.

Bucknell constructed Academic West as part of the Campus Master Plan initiated in 2007, which serves as a blueprint for future campus buildings and green spaces.