Natural Sciences Laboratory Building

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California

1 / 11 – Photo credit: Nic Lehoux
“Tectonic clarity, adroit composition and attention to scale, are integrated into a masterful whole that forms a noteworthy new “gateway” building to this complex. This robust science center contrasts raw concrete and refined finishes to create an environmentally sensitive ‘scientists loft’.”
AIA Award Jury Comment



Located at a prominent campus gateway and anticipating growth in subsequent phases, the Natural Sciences Building defines three distinct outdoor courts. The building is comprised of two articulated masses placed at right angles to each other, forming an L-shaped plan. Interactive spaces occur at the intersection of the two wings, anomalies in an otherwise rational plan. As the center of biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics study, the facility provides an environment for the integration of the three academic disciplines, promoting scientific collaboration, sharing of resources and facilities, and the integration of instructional and research activities through hands-on learning and training.

A stair draws one up through the heart of the building to a terrace above the lecture hall, culminating in an unexpected view of the Pacific Ocean. Undergraduate teaching labs on the first and second floors open onto a two-story lobby. Research labs are located on the second through sixth levels. The basement houses a 7,000 sqft vivarium and 5,000 sqft NMR suite for 2 x 900 MHz magnets. On each floor, a luminous ceiling dome in front of the elevators marks the hinge point of the two wings. Open labs and hands-free passage between lab and support areas facilitate cross-disciplinary research while administrative offices, scholarly activity spaces, and meeting rooms help foster informal interaction between and among undergraduate students and graduate and faculty researchers throughout the building.

Architects Bundy & Thompson of San Diego were Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s associate architect for the project.

Project Data

University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California
1999 – 2003
University of California, San Diego


Merit Award for Design
Honorable Mention
Energy Efficiency Integration Award
Honor Award for Design
Merit Award