The Science Center

Amherst’s spectacular new interdisciplinary Science Center opened to the community on September 7, 2018.

During the past 15 years, enrollments in STEM classes have increased 85 percent, and the College has introduced two new science majors. Amherst offers opportunities for undergraduate science students to work closely with their professors, participate in hands-on research, and become co-authors on scientific articles. The new Science Center, which opened in the fall of 2018, provides state-of-the-art facilities and flexible spaces to support the sciences at Amherst. 

The Latest

Students walk on a greenway pathway to the science center

Science Center Celebration

Hear remarks by Biddy Martin, President of Amherst College, during a celebration on October 20, 2018, of Amherst’s new Science Center.

Opening Day & Summer Research Posters

Moving into the new Science Center at Amherst College

Sciences on the Move

How do you move 525 zebrafish, a cryostat and a laser table worth approximately $1 million? Carefully.

About the Science Center

Interdisciplinary Spaces

The Science Center’s teaching and research spaces have been designed to facilitate the interdisciplinary partnerships that are increasingly shaping discoveries in science.

Anthony Bishop in his lab, smiling The ways we teach science and conduct research have changed dramatically in the decades since Merrill was built. We’re looking forward to flexible spaces in the new building that allow for innovative and modern ways of teaching science.”
Anthony Bishop, Professor of Chemistry

The biology and chemistry departments will share multiple research labs, with student write-up space nearby, which will create opportunities for students involved in different projects to engage with and learn from one another. 

Toward Deeper Collaboration

Sheila Jaswal, professor of chemistry
“With the informal spaces, students will be around the business of doing science...and it will become a lot less mysterious.”
—Sheila Jaswal, professor of chemistry

Six Professors Answer Questions About the New Science Center

We asked each professor to bring an object to the photoshoot that represented their work, to tell us what they are most looking forward to in the new Science Center, and to describe how the new building might affect future teaching and learning.

Questions & Answers

A New Campus Hub

In addition to upgrading our science infrastructure, the Science Center will offer flexible classrooms and gathering spaces that can be used by faculty and students from all over campus. With its inviting exterior, large and functional main commons, visible research labs, surrounding gardens, and many areas for casual interaction, the Science Center will draw together the sciences and the wider College community.

The front common area, with colorful seating and large windows looking into laboratories
Abundant light and open design provide a natural flow between spaces, as well as views into labs.

Designed with Sustainability in Mind

Solar Array, Energy Recovery, Rainwater Capture, Green Roof, Efficient Envelope, natural ventilation, Storm-water filtration

Amherst gathered a world-class team of industry leaders to design a new type of science building. Leveraging new technologies, our team of architects, engineers and sustainability experts developed sophisticated solutions, using computational modeling to explore various options and refine the designs.

Their resulting innovations set the stage for the Science Center to perform at an unparalleled level of energy efficiency.

The average science building uses about 370 kiloBTUs per square foot per year. We intend to reduce that by 73 percent or more through a variety of features: highly efficient systems for everything from the building HVAC down to individual lab hoods; a state-of-the-art insulating building envelope; and careful floor plan design so that sensitive and specialized lab systems are grouped together. 


students traverse the central stair, which has a wall of windows looking onto the greenway outside, and windows looking into labs in the interior

The Central Stair

At the core of the building, the open Central Stair provides access to all floors, along with views of the Greenway landscape outside, as well as labs and working spaces inside, via glass walls. In a vestibule off the stair is an interactive computer display presenting faculty and student research.

A student sits studying at a table near the stair, with a view of autumn trees as seen through the wall of glass The North and South Commons

A large, open area runs the length of the building and is separated by the Central Stair into the North and South Commons. A unifying space, the two commons bring all elements of the building together across levels. The commons, in turn, are open to campus. The large, west-facing glass curtain wall hangs in tension, with no columns to separate it from campus, making the work of science visible. 

The Glass Wall

The dramatic glass wall provides more than a spectacular view. It helps us meet our energy conservation goals. Efficient glass, innovative shading, and natural ventilation systems make our wall a key part of our energy strategy.

Built into the hillside, the ground floor receives natural light from the recessed Winter Garden. Surrounding the Garden are social and study spaces. Light from the Winter Garden

What is Biophillic Design?

Rooted in the belief that people thrive in natural settings, biophillic design connects interior spaces with natural surroundings, creating a flow between inside and outside. In the Science Center, abundant natural light, extensive use of natural materials, maximized views of the landscape, and green roofs all serve to connect the interior with the scenic and living Greenway. 

See Inside

July 30, 2018

The interior of the new Science Center is taking shape! Follow us on a special tour and see the new spaces, actively under construction. No hard hat required.

Construction Time-Lapse

July 19, 2018

Watch the construction from the very beginning, captured on our webcam.

Jess Martin

Administrative Director of the Science Center