By J. Morgan ’91 and Scott Tracy

The Margaret A. Cargill Natural Sciences and Health Building is a thoughtful, positive response to rapid advances occurring in health care, science, technology, and teaching in the twenty-first century.

For more than two years, nursing and science faculty and key administrators considered the needs of Berea’s student, for today and into the future, and developed a plan to create space capable of enhancing the College’s strong tradition of nursing and science education to ensure our graduates are ready to step into graduate studies or careers in technical fields.

To bring their vision to reality, the College worked with Ballinger, an architecture and engineering firm from Philadelphia with a special focus on creating spaces for science and health care in both academic and corporate settings. One of Ballinger’s principals, Jeffrey S. French, FAIA (Fellow of the American Institute of Architects), was the lead on the Cargill Building project. His charge was to bring together biology, chemistry, geology, physics, mathematics, and nursing under one roof by creating an interactive, technologically rich learning environment that will serve Berea’s students for the next 50 years, while complementing the existing architectural style of Berea’s predominantly Georgian Revival architecture.

In the end, the challenge of blending the past and the present was key to the success of the design. French said, “What unlocked the box for this project was finding a way to marry the faculty interest in a progressive, contemporary science teaching environment with the contextual Georgian campus architecture.”  Once the building is complete, French believes the integration of past and present will be stunning. “We fully expect people to say, ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting this,’” when they enter the building, because the interior will be contemporary, transparent, and “flooded with light,” French said.

Beyond the aesthetics of the building, French also believes the new space will improve learning outcomes by enhancing collaboration and dialogue between teachers and students. The design of the building facilitates project-based learning, so class time can be focused on doing science rather than lectures. He hopes the “interdisciplinary overlap” in the building will encourage greater student interaction as well. “Potentially, you will have a student focused on biology next to a student interested in physics who will be working on the same project,” which mimics the cross-disciplinary approach to projects found in the contemporary workplace.

Special areas such as the Discovery Center, the digital theatre/planetarium, and the 3-D visualization lab will be powerful tools for teaching and for community outreach, particularly with regional school groups. Using multimedia, standing exhibits, and hands-on areas for exploration and discovery, these spaces will put science on display throughout the building and inspire a new generation. We hope you find similar inspiration in the following tour of the Cargill Building’s main features, both the technologically advanced and the more pragmatic, like the inclusion of café to serve busy students in need of a quick meal.

With this great opportunity, however, comes an equally great challenge: The proposed building will cost an estimated $72 million, far beyond what the College could afford on its own.

Fortunately, a charitable trust, established by Margaret A. Cargill in 1996, has stepped up to that challenge by agreeing to provide a three to one match, if the College can find partners to raise an additional $10 million by June 30, 2018. Contributing to the campaign will effectively quadruple the impact of your gift and ensure that generations of promising students are afforded transformational educational opportunities in health care and the natural sciences.

To view some of the interior spaces and features of the building, please see pages 24 – 28 in the pdf version of the magazine, available here:

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