Build Me Up: The Future of STEAM Education at Nobel Hall
The Nobel Hall of Science at Gustavus Adolphus College, located in St. Peter, Minnesota, has been a staple on campus for decades. But its recent transformation is setting up Gustavus to be one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country.
Kraus-Anderson completed the renovation and expansion project this summer, nearly doubling the building’s footprint to over 177,000 square feet. The new space includes new laboratories, teaching and study spaces, and connects Nobel Hall with the Schaefer Fine Arts Center. The project was an intentional move to gear Gustavus toward the STEAM movement, aligning Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics with the Arts.
On the latest episode of KA’s Build Me Up podcast, Gustavus Provost and Dean Brenda Kelly, Geology and Environmental Studies professor Julie Bartley, and KA Project Manager Alec Miller discuss the Nobel Hall project and how Gustavus Adolphus College is aligning itself for the future.
Creating Synergy Between the Arts and Sciences
The Nobel Hall renovation was over 10 years in the making. Gustavus faculty began realizing that the existing space was outdated and not serving its students. They wanted to design a space that offered more flexibility, collaboration and modern technology. As one of the first STEAM buildings in the area, the connection between Nobel Hall and the Schafer Fine Arts building brings an expansive lobby and laboratory theatre. This connection provides ample opportunities for students to collaborate and meet informally.
While it may seem that students in the arts and students in sciences wouldn’t have much in common, they have found it to be the opposite. As the team worked through the challenges of designing Nobel Hall, they began to see how similar artists and scientists do their work. Something that stuck out was how both disciplines lean toward experimentation. While people often think of scientists as experimenters, theater departments are often experimenting with visualization, whether it be lighting or layout for production. Nobel Hall provides opportunities for experimentation across all disciplines, an innovative concept for higher education.
Inside the New Nobel Hall
The state-of-the-art facility includes additional research and teaching laboratories, offices, classrooms, meeting rooms and libraries. It also includes a museum, experimental theater space, greenhouse and auditorium. The academic departments in the building are intentionally sprinkled throughout the building, creating a synergy that allows students to see science in a more interdisciplinary way.
The design and construction of the building was a collaborative effort between Kraus-Anderson, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Hastings + Chivetta Architects. Rather than adjusting their curriculum to fit the old building, the process allowed Gustavus faculty to envision how they saw the future of the programs. Nobel Hall was designed to fit those needs. The LEED Silver certified building has locally-sourced stone and glass, ample daylight, and energy efficiency. The space was meant to serve students, allowing them to study and collaborate together in casual settings. While COVID-19 has put that on hold for a little while, Gustavus faculty is eager to make full use of the space in upcoming semesters.
To learn more about Nobel Hall and the future of STEAM education, tune in to the latest episode of the Build Me Up podcast. You can subscribe to Build Me Up wherever you listen to podcasts.View Comments