Wells College

Aurora, NY

48,733 gross square feet

Academics, Awards, Planning, Research

The project began with a programming study to examine the best way to renovate and perhaps expand the existing 1906 college science building.

The study revealed that the additional space needs and requirements might be better served in a new, stand-alone building. After undertaking a campus planning effort, a site was selected and a logistical plan devised.


The building accommodates the college's undergraduate biology, chemistry, environmental studies and physics programs. The plan layout incorporates a 2-story atrium to provide social and intellectual meeting space and encourage casual interdisciplinary interaction. The four departments that occupy the building are intentionally mixed throughout to further promote a multi-disciplinary approach. Undergraduate research labs are located adjacent to teaching labs of the same discipline, and all are stacked to maximize efficiencies for lab hoods and other utilities. General use classrooms for college-wide use are dispersed throughout the building, affording easy access for all.


It was particularly important to the faculty that the new building create an environment that fostered formal and informal collaborative learning. An aesthetic design element that was a result of this collaboration is the nautilus shape design feature in the atrium representing the golden mean. The goal was to provide intrigue for all who entered the building, to elicit a curiosity about the abstract shape chosen to abstractly illustrate the Fibonacci number series concept, and for the representation to be something that is meaningful to all the science disciplines. Once constructed, the faculty chose a beautiful nautilus shell from their collections for a display case located as the center of the spiral design.


For more information about this project contact Cindy Kaufman, AIA:

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