04-08-22 | News

Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Sciences Building, Universities at Shady Grove

Mahan Rykiel Associates, Inc.
by Staff

The upcoming ISSUE Issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News saw many firms submit their projects for feature consideration. This project was not chosen for a Feature in the issue, but we at thought the project deserved to be showcased online . . .

The new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Sciences building (BSE) embodies the story of the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). The six-level, 220,000- square- foot facility and its four-acre site enhance the collaboration of nine sister institutions at USG to offer advanced degree programs in cutting-edge technology and medical science fields, as well as to share instructional facilities across disciplines. Programs in physical therapy, dentistry, mechanical engineering, biotechnology, biological sciences, electrical engineering, environmental science and technology, and associated fields are housed in the building. The project is LEED Platinum certified.
The landscape architect has been involved in the planning and implementation of The Universities at Shady Grove Masterplan since 2002. The most current building project is the BSE presented here. Sited on an existing surface parking lot on the edge of campus, the project effectively "re-centers" the campus through its generous public space and pedestrian connections between USG, the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR), and parking facilities.


BSE is designed to create a sense of 'home' on this regional campus by enhancing the student experience through spatial diversity that supports collaboration and socialization. This diversity of spatial conditions in and around the building parallels the diversity of learning styles, scales, and cultures, as well as the transient nature of this eclectic community.
Located at the headwaters of the Piney Branch Watershed, a sub-watershed of the Watts Branch, which is a tributary of the Potomac River, the project is dedicated to creating a strong connection to the local site ecology while minimizing the impact on the adjacent wetland. The landscape design pulls the natural character of the wetland through and around the building to help create connections between visitors and nature. This same gesture becomes the method of treating stormwater runoff from the project's impervious surfaces. Pedestrian circulation follows the drainage and water treatment flow while extending the campus spine southward and connecting to a recently completed parking deck over a raised boardwalk.

A critical goal of the project was to enhance human health and happiness by celebrating our innate human attraction to natural systems and elements. This goal is achieved through various biophilic experiences throughout the site and building. Nestled between the north and south bars of the building are two intimately scaled courtyards constructed in materials of wood and stone and planted for 4-season interest, offering immersive natural experiences for visitors. Anchoring the east courtyard is a site-specific art installation inspired by the ecological context and scientific and engineering disciplines of the building.

The new architectural vocabulary and character established by BSE help define and strengthen the identity of the Shady Grove campus, creating a magnet of activity that is highly transparent and connected at multiple levels to community and environment.
Establishing a highly accessible public space, while maintaining a "student- owned" experience, the BSE is an outer expression of the role of USG in the community, effectively addressing both the needs of employers and the educational needs of students.

Team List:
Landscape Contractor - Live Green Landscape Associates
Site Furnishings - Landscape Forms
Meadow Seed - Ersnt Conservation Seeds


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