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Drake Univ. Opens Science Connector Building

Looking to the future, Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa has resolved to continue its strength in the sciences through focused investments in its physical facilities.  The reconfiguration and renovation of existing space and the addition of new space for the sciences will serve to establish and promote new interdisciplinary programs and research efforts, while enhancing opportunities for collaboration between existing programs.

The new, Holabird & Root-designed Science Connector Building (SCB) is the key component to realizing this goal.  The SCB will serve as an interdisciplinary hub for the sciences, physically connecting to Fitch and Olin Halls and linking a network of five buildings.  This will allow internal access for the entire science complex.  Later phases include the renovation of Olin Hall, which houses the Biology Department.

Drake University has a unique architectural legacy with buildings by noted modernist architects Eero Saarinen and Mies Van der Rohe.  Two of the science complex buildings are by Saarinen with one of them, Fitch Hall, connecting directly to the SCB.  Numerous planning studies were developed in order to determine an appropriate design solution that worked harmoniously with the smaller Fitch Hall.

Building Organization

The SCB is organized into 4 levels with a 100 level north/south axis joining the external campus entrances and east/west axis internally linking the science buildings on the upper levels.  The primary circulation spine will be on the 200 level, which links all 5 buildings of the complex.  This path was conceived as a unifying street animated by numerous and varying sized informal student spaces.  In the SCB, these include glass enclosed “zip” spaces, conference rooms, and open informal gathering spaces.  Each level has a large flexible classroom fitted out with sophisticated classroom technology.


Teaching and research clusters foster interdisciplinary science

Working with faculty from all departments, four “clusters” of interdisciplinary inquiry were identified supporting future growth and enhanced collaboration within the sciences at Drake.

The Molecular Sciences Cluster incorporates work in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Pharmacy.  Centered on two advanced teaching laboratories, the cluster will join experts from each discipline in an integrated node with six faculty research labs and offices.

The Neuroscience Cluster brings together faculty and researchers in Biology, Pharmacy, and Psychology.  With a comprehensive animal facility at its center, the cluster centralizes all animal related work, providing teaching, research, and office space for faculty from the participating departments.

The Human Performance Cluster combines work being done in Biology, Health Sciences, and Psychology.  Here, human physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, and human behavioral studies overlap in a suite of teaching and research labs, and faculty office space.

The Environmental Science Cluster joins work being done in Biology and Chemistry and is anchored by a rooftop greenhouse, botany research lab, and the Biodiversity Center.


Core Facilities

Another goal of the SCB was to consolidate core facilities currently scattered throughout the campus.  These include a vivarium, greenhouse, BSL2 lab, and instrument lab.

The vivarium includes 10 animal holding rooms, testing rooms, surgical room, cage wash facility, and other supporting functions.  It is set up to provide an isolated secure connection to Olin Hall in order to support animal related research programs in Biology.
A 2,100 SF greenhouse with 3 cells and head-house is located on the roof.  Clustered with the greenhouse is a botany research lab and the Biodiversity Center.  A roof deck with telescope mounts supports the Physic department’s astronomy program.
At the heart of the Neuroscience Cluster is an instrument and prep lab.  It supports both teaching and research labs and includes access to a tissue culture and BSL2 lab.


Moving In

The SCB has just finished the construction phase.  The University's students and faculty are excited about their move into their new spaces.   Over the course of the multi-year planning and construction process, differing co-location strategies were explored for the faculty’s teaching, research, and office needs.  Now that they have moved in, it’s been interesting to see how the flexibility of the design is allowing faculty to choose to locate in areas not originally planned.  We look forward to following up with a in depth post occupancy study to determine how effective the new SCB is in supporting a collaborative culture of interdisciplinary teaching and research.


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Fermilab Near and Far Detectors Awarded ALA Gold

Holabird & Root’s designs of Fermilab’s Short Baseline Neutrino Near and Far Detectors were recently bestowed a Gold Award by the Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) through its 2017 Design Awards Program.

Fermilab’s SBN Near and Far Detectors completed construction in April 2017.  The Detectors are instrumental in supporting Fermilab’s Neutrino Research Program and are key components to its Neutrino Campus. Each building consists of a detector hall, loading/staging space, computing rack space, and mechanical and electrical space. Sub-grade detectors are accessible from a high-bay superstructure.  Research infrastructure includes a robust cryogenic system.

We’re thrilled to share this Gold Award with Fermilab and are grateful for the 18 years we have spent working with them.

The ALA Design Awards Program is the organization’s annual showcase of the power of design by its members.  The Design Awards Dinner took place on Monday, October 2, 2017 at Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. 






Glenview naval air station

Holabird & Root Wins Naval Air Station Museum Project

Holabird & Root, in association with Aviation Consultant Bufano Management, was recently selected by the Glenview Park District Board of Commissioners, the Glenview Hanger One Foundation, and Bring It Home Glenview to complete a feasibility study for the new Naval Air Station Glenview Museum and Flight Academy, and STEM Learning Center. 

The Holabird & Root and Bufano Management design team will work closely with the Foundation and Park District to create a conceptual design that would preserve the history of the Naval Air Station; create space to display a restored World War II Navy aircraft; and tell the story of the Air Station’s role and influence in the Glenview community, aviation, and our nation’s history. 

The mission of the facility will be to honor those who served; preserve and exhibit the expanding collections; create an immersive learning experience for visitors; and educate future generations about the past, present, and future of aviation. 

The feasibility study and conceptual design is projected to be complete by the end of 2017. 

Additional details regarding the Glenview Hangar One Foundation and project fundraising can be found here:


Holabird & Root Named Finalist for CBC Merit Award

The team of Northwestern University, Holabird & Root, and Norcon Construction were named a finalist for the CBC Merit Award Interior Build-Out of Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools. The renovation is comprised of classroom space, student study space, reception, and staff office space. Three classrooms including one 48-student classroom and two 24-student classrooms support the student learning experience. Each classroom is enhanced with cutting edge digital display technology that uses a touchscreen interface to facilitate student interaction.  Study areas include a variety of seating types and access to whiteboard and pin-up space for collaboration and study sessions outside of the classroom. Six faculty/staff offices, a conference room, a small number of meeting rooms for faculty to meet with students and parents, and reception space is also included in the project.


For more information on Northwestern Academy and the CBC Merit Awards visit,

Rustys new bw 2

Holabird & Root Announces Promotion Of Rusty Walker

Holabird & Root is pleased to announce the promotion of Rusty Walker, AIA, LEED AP to Principal.

Walker, a graduate of Northeastern University and Rice University, joined Holabird & Root in 2006 after working with Perkins+Will. Since arriving, he has served as the lead project designer on numerous project types, including affordable, senior, student, and market-rate housing buildings; higher education facilities; sports and recreation centers; master plans; and others.

Most recently, he led the design of the award-winning East-West University Student Life Center, a 17-story, mixed-use tower located in Chicago’s South Loop. The new high-rise provides the University with its first student residences along with several academic and social amenities. He also led the design of the Public Building Commission’s Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Addition, which was bestowed the 2016 Chicago Building Congress/Construction Owners Association of America (COAA) Project of the Year Award.

“We’re thrilled that Rusty will be the next design leader of our historic practice,” said Managing Principal Greg Cook.  “Since joining Holabird & Root, Rusty has demonstrated the enthusiasm to connect with clients and design ingenuity to create distinguished buildings and spaces.   We feel Rusty is best suited to not only mentor and lead our young designers, but that his diverse and extensive portfolio of experience will help grow our business and reach new opportunities.”

Rusty is a member of the American Institute of Architects and is a LEED Accredited Professional. 

Holabird & Root is a Chicago-based architecture, engineering, interior design, and graphic illustration firm. Since its founding in 1880, Holabird & Root has been recognized for its history of translating complex challenges into thoughtful solutions for clients in the academic, government, cultural and civic, and corporate markets. Holabird & Root celebrates over 135 years of professional service, innovative design, advanced technology, and collaboration.