University of Maryland, Physical Sciences Complex

Student Gathering

University of Maryland, Physical Sciences Complex

An Oculus to the Skies

To make physical science more accessible and exciting to the student body, the University of Maryland is moving towards a multi-disciplinary approach, combining theoretical and applied sciences. Beginning with a clear campus master plan, the new Physical Sciences Facility illustrates an approach to weave various disciplines not only into the facility itself, but also into the fabric of the campus.

HDR created an unexpected yet aesthetically pleasing design solution for the Physical Sciences Building that works on many levels. Faced with a “difficult” site, the team embraced existing constraints, such as the pedestrian circulation pattern, to facilitate relationships among various disparate groups, connect new and existing buildings and maintain campus circulation patterns. The memorable design offers a clear identity to the new facility and celebrates the University’s prominence in physical sciences and astronomy: its central location makes it a new landmark for the campus.

The building acts as both an advertisement and welcoming committee for the Department of Physics. As students and faculty make their way to the building through the campus, they discover an unexpected and welcoming courtyard underneath the building. Floor-to-ceiling glazing provides views into the building to see faculty and students gathering in a café or observe projects on display in the lobby. Looking up through the “window to the skies,” they can see offices for theorists and astronomers. The physics department itself is appropriately rooted in the earth, with sensitive laboratories far below grade.

Student Gathering
University of Maryland

College Park, MD
United States

158,000 sf (14,680 m²)
LEED Gold Certified