Step Inside 8 Inspiring Science Buildings At US Universities

Students who are looking to go into STEM (or like finding inspiration in new places) should look no further than this list of eight of the most inspiring science buildings on American college campuses.

From historical importance to science-inspired architecture, these buildings have something for everyone. Budding scientists can fuel their passion in state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories, and exchange ideas on the future in meticulously-designed lounges and common areas.

We’ve compiled a list of (what we think are) the 8 best STEM buildings at US universities. After all, if you’re going to major in STEM, you might as well do it in style.


Harvard Science Center

(Cambridge, MA)


The Harvard Science Center was built in the 1970s modernist architectural movement. The Math Department lounge has a view of the entire Yard (check it out at sunset)! Inside is an astronomical observatory where students can use the telescopes. Recently, a library was opened inside the Science Center, which features a coffee bar, diner-style study booths, flat-screen TVs, multiple social collaboration spaces, and a new ‘Discovery Bar.’” If you are interested in STEM, you can make yourself comfortable (and entertained) from your morning cup of coffee to looking at the night sky all in one place.  

MIT Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences

(Cambridge, MA)


The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences is located on the northeastern edge of MIT’s campus. It was built on the the site of MIT’s Building 20, which was constructed during World War II as a “temporary” timber-framed building. The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences was built with recycled timbers from Building 20 flooring. Inside are auditoriums and classrooms for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, research labs and offices of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. Students might be lucky enough to spot academics such as Noam Chomsky and Ron Rivest, World Wide Web Consortium founder Tim Berners-Lee, and free software movement founder Richard Stallman, who all have offices in the Stata Center.


Stanford Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center

(Stanford, CA)


In the Stanford Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center is in the southeast section of the Science and Engineering Quad. It is the hub of the School of Engineering and the location of the Dean’s office. The Huang Center is built to celebrate Stanford’s pivotal role in the rise of Silicon Valley. Each floor of the center features tributes to important places and people from the history of the School of Engineering. As students walk through the Huang Engineering Center, the artifacts spaced throughout are supposed to illustrate the kinds of world-changing innovations that have emerged from the School of Engineering and inspire the students.


UC Berkeley Valley Life Sciences Building

(Berkeley, CA)


The Valley Life Sciences Building (VLSB) was constructed in 1930 as one of four building projects which included the Life Sciences Building, Life Sciences Addition, Koshland Hall, North West Animal Facility. It was built as a way to revitalize UC Berkeley’s biological sciences department. When it was completed, it was the largest building west of the Mississippi River in the United States and the largest academic building in the world at approximately 250×500 feet.

Sixty years after it was built, VLSB was renovated to modernize the laboratories and several departments, such as the old Paleontology, Botany, and Zoology departments, were consolidated into the new Department of Integrative Biology. VLSB holds some fifty research laboratories, three large auditoriums, six classrooms, undergraduate teaching laboratories, the Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library (which stores over 450,000 volumes), and five museums (the University and Jepsen Herbaria, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, the Museum of Paleontology, the Essig Museum of Entomology, and the Human Evolution Research Center).


Rice Wiess School of Natural Sciences

(Houston, TX)


The Rice Institute was established in 1912, which brought about the Rice Wiess School of Natural Sciences. The Institute’s four founding departments: biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics are all included in the Wiess School. As Rice became established as a world-class university, Rice set its base on natural sciences. The founding of NASA, Nobel Prize-winning discovery of buckyballs, and the melding of nanotechnology with life sciences gained Rice’s sciences center international attention. Wiess School supports undergraduate departments of BioSciences, and the professional science Masters program.


John Hopkins University Undergraduate Teaching Labs

(Baltimore, MD)

John Hopkins University Undergraduate Teaching Labs sit on Mudd and Levi Halls on the Homewood campus. The building blends into the Bufano Sculpture Gardens, allowing the space to get natural light. Undergraduate students who are studying chemistry, biology, biophysics, neuroscience and psychological and brain sciences use the 20 labs. The design of the building is supposed to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. The building received a platinum certification, the highest possible award, from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.


Carnegie Mellon Doherty Hall

(Pittsburgh, PA)

Carnegie Mellon’s Doherty Hall was one of the first buildings on campus built in 1908. It went through a renovation in 2008. The renovation included construction of the Gates Building for computer science, which was made possible by the $20 million donated from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The renovation also included new research spaces (large laboratories) that are shared by faculty members from five departments in an effort to promote collaboration between students from different groups. Inside students can also find three table-top scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), a powder X-ray diffractometer and a tabletop atomic force microscope (AFM). To top it all off (pun intended), the building has a green roof where students can enjoy some fresh air. The facility is host to Students can use top of the line technology or enjoy the outdoor scenery.


California Institute of Technology Annenberg Center For Information Science and Technology

(Pasadena, CA)


The windows on the LEED gold certified, California Institute of Technology’s Annenberg Center For Information Science and Technology are proliferated inside and outside allowing natural light to come through a two-story central atrium and enter the building. Professors, graduate students, postdoctoral students, and researchers in the science field all work in the building. The building was made with sustainable materials including the bamboo used for the wood paneling throughout. The building uses a mix of classical and contemporary furniture that line the hallways and whiteboards in an effort to create an atmosphere that inspires and creates discussions.

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