Cypress College Science, Engineering and Math Building
Facility includes state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratories, teachings spaces and an Immersive Digital Classroom (IDC)
The three-story SEM Building provides badly needed teaching and laboratory space for Cypress College’s fast-growing Biological/Life Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physical Sciences programs. It was the first new instructional space built on campus since 1976. Replacing a surface parking lot, the 106,000-square-foot facility provides a final puzzle piece in a group of buildings surrounding the easternmost of two campus quads, including teaching laboratories, multi-disciplinary classroom/lecture spaces and administrative offices.
The SEM’s column-lined entry gives way to a large interior courtyard, surrounded by classrooms and labs for biology, chemistry, mathematics and physical science with operable glass walls. The facility includes an Immersive Digital Classroom (IDC), a flexible 100-seat theater with a domed ceiling used by the astronomy, science and mathematics programs. Another section of the building is dedicated to a crematorium to serve the college’s mortuary program.
The project was designed and built with sustainability at the core of its design strategies. The SEM will outperform California state energy requirements, while reducing water 50 percent beyond code. Large bioretention areas were developed to function seamlessly with adjacent outdoor learning spaces, treating all of the building’s storm water runoff. The façade, which is made from ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) rain screen panels, matches the look and feel of Cypress College’s existing Brutalist cast-in-place concrete buildings while significantly improving the thermal performance.
The SEM building is also designed to be both seismically resilient and conducive to laboratory conditions. To link the building’s two wings, LPA engineers designed a seismic ring diaphragm system at each floor, connected by horizontal trusses in the corridors and pedestrian bridges. The design maximizes structural stiffness, while minimizing dampening to reduce the effects of floor vibration.