Science building at Clayton State University triples lab space

Clayton State’s enrollment has grown to more than 7,200 students from 4,675 in 2001

Nearly a decade in the making, the new science building at Clayton State University in Georgia adds a much-needed 58,610 square feet of learning facilities to campus.

The building nearly triples the school’s lab space, creating more efficient facilities to accommodate increasing enrollment.


Clayton State’s enrollment has grown to more than 7,200 students from 4,675 in 2001. There are more student science majors, and every student is required to take laboratory classes.

Waiting lists for these courses ran as deep as 100 students. “Quite frankly, we were running out of physical space,” says Corlis Cummings, vice president for business operations. “It was also affecting student concerns about graduating on time.”

Planning for a new science building began in the mid-2000s, but the recession derailed construction and strained the budget, says design architect William Stelten of The S/L/A/M Collaborative in Atlanta. “We couldn’t spare any square footage,” he says. “Our challenge was to create a modern STEM building, with a strict footprint and budget.”


Prior to the new science building, Clayton State had 11 lab spaces. Now the university has a total of 19 instructional labs, nine research labs, two 64-seat classrooms and two 36-seat classrooms.

The three-story facility also features stacked biology and chemistry suites, which integrate research, prep and teaching labs. “The building was designed to be very open and collaborative,” Cummings says. “It also has wide corridors with several small student study areas.”

Though much of the exterior architecture is consistent with Clayton State’s traditional brick style, one side features large, modern glass windows.

Sustainable features include sun shading for the widows, daylight harvesting and use of recycled materials and rainwater. The lobby extends outside to a covered porch commons where students and faculty can work outside for most of the year, taking advantage of Georgia’s warm climate, Stelten says.

“That was another sustainable and cost-saving feature, as it makes the lobby space larger while not needing to be heated or cooled,” he adds. “It also looks out onto the pond and newly purchased land, which we feel is a gateway to Clayton’s future.”

  • COMPLETED: October 2015
  • COST: $24.8 million
  • PROJECT TEAM: The S/L/A/M Collaborative (Atlanta), architect —Lauren Williams

Most Popular