The project consists of renovations and a 50,000 square foot addition to the Merrill Science Center. The addition houses teaching and research laboratories for biology and neuroscience. The renovations are primarily for the psychology department and for a new science library.

Biology is the largest science department at Amherst College, and because of the growth in enrollment coupled with the poor condition of the previous facility, a decision was made to build a new building. Attaching this new facility to the other main science building on campus allowed, for the first time, previously distant departments to share equipment and to support curricular cross-pollination.

The interior character of the complex is organized around several ideas. First, interaction among the scientists with each other and with the students is important to the generation of ideas, discovery, and the education of the students. Second, the plan brings scientists and their research facilities together to afford greater exposure of undergraduates to the processes and insights of science. Third, as the traditional sciences are becoming more intermingled, each floor of the new building connects the Biology or Neuroscience sections with the appropriate floor of the existing Merrill Science Center, bringing together the most related disciplines. The teaching labs are located at the intersection of the new building with the old, where everyone passes to get to research spaces in both buildings or to the main lecture halls in Merrill. The details in the flooring and light fixtures add interest and education to the passing student through the use of images chosen by the scientists, which reflect the science taught and the research that is carried out in the facility.

The architecture of the new building is designed to fit into the Amherst College campus without looking like an obvious new neighbor. It bridges the styles of the Math building to the west, the Geology building to the north, and the Merrill Science center to the east, and physically connects to Math and Merrill. The Math building is connected by an underground tunnel, preserving the much used outdoor path to the tennis courts. Like both of its adjacent buildings, it is built into the hill. To the campus and the Geology department, the Life Sciences building presents a two-story facade and to the athletic fields and the Holyoke Mountain range a four-story facade. The detailing on the exterior is of traditional brick and granite with precast stone lintels and cornice. Set into the lintels are bas-relief cast stone images of pairs of flora and fauna that relate to those used at the interior.

Photography © Steve Rosenthal