Physics and Astronomy Building, University of Washington+ expand detail
Seattle, Washington, USA
265,000 square feet / 25,000 square meters
A major research and instructional building on the University of Washington campus, the Physics and Astronomy Building includes laboratories, faculty and administrative offices, classrooms, computer facilities, four auditoria, a planetarium and a library. The building consists of a six-story tower, a four-story horizontal building, and a two-story structure, all resting on a one-story basement platform that ties the components together internally. A one-acre courtyard planted with large trees is the primary outdoor public space for this part of the campus.
The building forms and details relate to campus building traditions. The exterior surfaces are textured multi-colored brick set in an English cross bond pattern, with cast stone accents and copper panels. The planetarium and the largest auditorium are emphasized with argyle patterns like those on existing campus buildings.
An exterior colonnade reinforces the tall, linear auditoria lobby space. An adjacent circular stair to astronomy classrooms and the planetarium is contained in a tall glass structure, creating a focus for the lobby as well as a location for a Foucault pendulum.
Physics and astronomy demonstrations are incorporated throughout the building: the Foucault pendulum, a sundial, crystal formation and atomic grid patterns in patterned glass and tile, and carvings of physics and astronomy formulae in the cast stone piers.
There are gathering spaces throughout the building, particularly at important entrances. The two-story building, which houses the most used instructional spaces, includes a lobby used as a waiting space for students and for departmental gatherings and receptions. Smaller spaces are used for informal meetings. Faculty offices are grouped in clusters around semi-open discussion areas, which have become essential places for the exchange of ideas among faculty.
The building is designed to easily incorporate future changes. Where appropriate, labs are in a linear layout to provide flexibility for function and size. The mechanical, electrical and other support systems of the building are also designed to allow easy conversion of spaces should functional changes occur. In addition, the basement level contains 15,000 square feet of expansion shell space.
In 1997, the Physics and Astronomy Building received a Brick in Architecture Design Award from the American Institute of Architects.