Bay Pines STEM Center Seminole, Florida

View of the Community Center and Science Labs beyond

Community Center with view to water beyond

Detail view of Science Labs facade

Science Labs with view to Oak and Pine Hammock and water beyond

Science Labs with view to water's edge beyond

View from the southeast

View from the North

Bay Pines STEM Center Seminole, Florida

Client: St. Petersburg College

Location: 4723 Bay Pines Terrace

Site: The project site is a coastal marine environment on Florida’s west coast in Pinellas County connected via an intracoastal waterway to the Gulf of Mexico.  The existing conditions on the site include a variety of ecosystems, both native and non-native to Florida.  The site has been utilized as an informal STEM Learning Center dedicated to the integration of marine and environmental science with math, engineering and robotics since the 1970s when the land was donated to the College by the Veterans Administration.

Program Challenge:   It was the College’s desire that the site’s natural environment be protected as much as possible to continue to serve the marine science and natural science faculty and students in their research.

Solution:  In light of this desire, the proposed design provides a built environment in a small footprint that is sensitive to the property’s ecosystems and the proposed facility integrates architectural design elements, building systems, and site and landscape design elements that support a more sustainable and responsive educational environment.

The conceptual design for the facility reacts strongly to the ecosystems on the property and their existing use as field research classrooms and affirms the project’s vision to integrate learning in both traditional and non-traditional settings.  In response to the site, the facility’s organizing principles place the program’s support spaces along the entry side and the main program spaces (the Science) along the water side.  Reinforcing a goal to be a self-sustaining built environment, program spaces accommodate multi-purpose functions, expanding the overall programmatic capabilities for the College.  Programmed spaces are placed on an elevated slab due to the project’s location within a flood zone.  The design uses this requirement to its advantage by raising the programmed floor plate higher than the required minimum allowing greater views of the natural features of the site beyond the immediate context to the surrounding wetlands and water’s edge.  As one moves from the entry side to the water side -- from west to east -- the roof plane rises, accommodating large glazed openings with views that reach out to the water and the natural features of the site.  Covered spaces below the raised slab, demonstration gardens and an outdoor amphitheater, embrace the site’s pre-existing function as a learning landscape with the amphitheater orienting itself to an existing oak and pine hammock utilized by faculty as an outdoor learning classroom.

The new facility is the sole building at the site serving as a beacon for the College highlighting the programs housed there.  The design embodies the coastal environs of the property and is the catalyst for entry into the site and the research that occurs there.  Tasked to be a 21st Century learning environment for STEM programs at the College, as well as for local and regional school districts, government agencies, and community groups, machine aesthetics are embraced as a component of the design, showcasing the project’s mission to be an incubator for STEM learning, collaboration and research.