Transformational Building on the Horizon
by Matt Hughes
Academic East will blend contemporary elements and Bucknell's classic Collegiate Georgian architecture interior.
Academic East will blend contemporary elements and Bucknell's classic Collegiate Georgian architecture interior
Illustrations: Stantec
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Academic East will blend contemporary elements and Bucknell’s classic Collegiate Georgian architecture.
Construction began this spring on Academic East, a new interdisciplinary laboratory and classroom building offering cutting-edge resources for departments from two of Bucknell’s three colleges.

The 78,000-square-foot facility — a bold blend of traditional and contemporary architectural elements — will benefit departments across the College of Engineering and serve as a new home for the Department of Education. Together with Academic West, the social sciences building that opened in 2013, Academic East will complete a new quadrangle behind Bertrand Library, opening to the South Campus Apartments living-learning complex, slated for completion in fall 2019.

The $37.9 million Academic East project will be funded through a combination of the expenditure of existing debt and donations, including a $6 million gift from the late Richard Garman ’56.

Academic East will house more than 25 engineering laboratories — expanding lab space available to students and faculty by 50 percent — as well as more than 30 offices and four classrooms. These spaces will enhance research tied to the medical field and support work from an array of disciplines broadly related to human health — including materials science, fluid mechanics, food science and sustainable transportation. Cutting-edge research spaces and the learning experiences they will unlock include:

  • A food lab allowing chemical engineering students to cook up new concoctions in accordance with federal food-safety regulations
  • A teaching lab simulating a high-school science classroom with lab tables and equipment
  • A bioelectricity lab enabling research involving body-worn sensors for health monitoring and communication with smart medical devices
  • A sustainability command center that converts the building into a research vehicle by monitoring environmental data to better understand how structures interact with the natural world.

Patrick Mather, dean of the College of Engineering, says these spaces will greatly enhance the close collaboration with faculty and discovery of new knowledge that are hallmarks of a Bucknell undergraduate education. Provost Barbara Altmann adds that Academic East is designed to be accessible and useful to students and faculty from across majors, building on other recently opened interdisciplinary facilities such as the Humanities Center and the Coal Region Field Station.

“Proximity and shared space lead to both informal and formal collaboration,” Altmann says. “We want students from every major on campus to talk, study, eat, work and have social time with peers in other disciplines.”