Bolstering STEM Learning in a Sustainable Science Center on an Urban Campus

Punit Jain, CannonDesign

Coppin State's desire to prepare its students for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) required a new, state-of-the-art facility that would deliver increased opportunities for its high-minority student population to excel in STEM learning. The 10-acre urban redevelopment and campus expansion, including 150,450 sf teaching and research facility supports growing programs in science, mathematics, and allied health. The building addresses and fulfills the aspirations of the university, the students and the surrounding neighborhood. The design of the new building intentionally opens up the campus to the city as a place for optimism, transparency and hope. The project was completed in 2015 and is pursuing LEED Gold certification.

The internal organization of the building is determined through numerous discussions with the faculty as well as a detailed program analysis. The design encourages faculty and students from different science departments to collaborate on projects that cross traditional departmental boundaries. All labs and classrooms are designed for project teams of two to eight people to work together as part of the STEM learning experience. General classrooms and computer labs for campus-wide use are included on the lower level. The entry level is active and vibrant, with exhibit space, a small café and a 100-seat lecture hall.

The project is using waterless urinals and dual flush toilets and the labs have implemented point-of-use water purification system instead of a central purification system to conserve water and energy. The landscape design approach uses drought resistant plant species. A highly sophisticated lighting control system using daylight and occupancy sensors and timeclocks will be used to reduce overall energy use. Lighting has been designed to consume less than .8 watts per square foot, which is substantially below the IES standard of 1.1 watts per square foot for a lab building. A tight well insulated building envelope with low-E glazing, variable speed drives, high efficiency equipment and a heat recovery system contribute to a highly energy efficient building. Sustainable initiatives go beyond green education and green cleaning practices to implementing campus wide recycling programs and sustainable furniture selections.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the design objectives of a university wanting to expand their STEM learning
  • Learn how to design for large urban redevelopment project
  • Learn about a highly sophisticated lighting control system
  • Learn innovative sustainable strategies for pursuit of LEED Gold certification.


A LEED Fellow and leader in the science, technology and sustainability practices, Punit Jain brings extensive experience in the integration of systems, spaces and experiences for higher education and federal clients. Mr. Jain serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and the advisory board of SEFA and is the recipient of the I2SL Go Beyond Award.


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