Designed to be the first truly interdisciplinary building at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus, the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation unites three colleges under one roof, exemplifying a growing trend in higher education: breaking down traditional education silos to foster truly interdisciplinary education and enhance workforce readiness.
Meeting Current and Future Student Needs
The four-story, 103,800 SF Frost Center represents the future of the classroom and laboratory design; one that is inherently flexible and modular to support education priorities for a growing student body of STEM and humanities undergraduates. The new building will house classroom, lab and faculty office space for the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Mathematics, and the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences.
Sited on a slope, and adjacent to the ZGF-designed Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics, the building’s form disrupts the traditional idea of academic laboratory design. Individual towers break up the building scale and establish homes for the teaching and research modules. The volumes are unified by a central atrium that creates physical and visual connections for students, faculty and researchers. From the atrium, students can glimpse teaching and experiments in real-time, such as in the state-of-the-art teaching kitchen for the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences on the first floor.
These flexible spaces reflect Cal Poly’s educational philosophy to “Learn by Doing,” providing space such as recording studios and culinary and sensory facilities to give students applicable workforce experience. They also allow the building to be responsive to future changes in pedagogy and student needs. For example, modularly planned laboratories can flex for optimal space utilization, combining to produce large, open laboratories or subdividing to produce small instrument or special-use laboratories.
Optimized for Health and Performance
Occupant health and energy efficient performance are key design drivers for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Passive design strategies and natural ventilation ensure the building will be as healthy as possible for its occupants. One hundred percent outside air from air handling units and operable windows in offices allow the building to avoid the recirculation of air that might provide an avenue of airborne Pathogen exposure, a strategy of particular importance as higher education institutions grapple with the COVID-19 crisis.
An engineered façade offers another example of research and technology on display. Exterior fins are attuned to specific solar orientations to optimize daylight and energy efficiency and allow for full floor-to-ceiling glass in labs. Designed to achieve LEED Gold® certification, the building will consume 30% less potable water than current California efficiency standards and have capacity to accommodate future rooftop solar panels.
Scheduled for completion in late 2021, the Frost Center spotlights a thoughtful crossover between academic departments to fuel new ideas and research and provide a flexible learning environment for future generations of students.