October 7, 2013
The School of Education opened the fall semester in the newly renovated Marrs McLean Science Building.
The 114,000-square-foot facility, which first opened in 1964, underwent a $23 million transformation this past year. The scope of the project included a full renovation of the interior space, including new mechanical and utility services, new walls and room layouts, and all new furnishings. Exterior upgrades include a new glazed and bricked façade and improved landscaping surrounding the facility.
The School of Education now occupies space on four floors of the building's South Wing, which includes new curriculum labs, faculty and administrative offices, office and meeting space for graduate students, and ample open community space for people to meet and interact.
"We're hoping the space breeds a new level of interaction and collaboration," said Jon Engelhardt, dean of the School of Education.
Aside from the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, which resides in the neighboring Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium, this is the first time in many years that the bulk of the School of Education has been under one roof. For the past several decades, the School operated out of a variety of buildings across campus, including Draper Academic Building and Burleson Hall.
"In terms of physical space, this is
the closest the School of Education has been to being unified in one location since the 1970s," said Doug Rogers, the School's associate dean for student and information services. "Our work spaces are more open. They are designed to be gathering points."
The new home in Marrs McLean allows the School to address substantial challenges faced when departments were scattered. The renovated building affords the School the opportunity to share student and clerical resources, provide faculty and students with state-of-the-art classrooms and curriculum labs designed specifically for their programs, and offer graduate students much needed workspaces.
"Instructors were able to design instructional spaces based on the ways they teach (or would like to teach) their classes," the dean said, giving the examples of a new math curriculum lab equipped with two smart boards and a science curriculum lab that was built as a working school science classroom. "This building supports teaching strategies that we expect our candidates to take into the field."
In response to growing graduate programs, Engelhardt said it was essential to build a number of meeting spaces for graduate students and work carrels for them to "call home" while they're at Baylor.
With the new space, administrators also see exciting opportunities to showcase the School's programs to prospective students and engage alumni.
For example, they imagine a time when students and alumni will gather to tailgate before football games and then walk together from Marrs McLean to the soon-to-be-constructed bridge across the Brazos River and into the new Baylor Stadium.
"Alumni will have the opportunity to experience a new place and an opportunity to create new traditions," Rogers said. "We're in a nice location to do something like that."
About the Marrs McLean Renovation
For nearly half a century the Marrs McLean Science Building facility housed research labs, lecture rooms, teaching labs and offices for the physics, chemistry and geology departments in addition to other groups.
With the opening of the Baylor Sciences Building in the fall of 2004, much of the lab space operations relocated to the BSB, reducing 50 percent of the required occupancy of the facility.
In 2011, the Provost's Office sought to maximize utilization of this academic space with its prime location on campus. Project goals were to expand classroom and collaborative spaces, as well as provide a new home for the School of Education and other academic departments and offices. The Board of Regents approved a $23 million renovation of the building that year.
"The renovation allows the School of Education and its departments, as well as anthropology and statistics, to be innovative in their use of space to meet the expanding needs of faculty and students in the 21st century," said Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost.
Renovation began in May 2012 and was completed in July 2013.
One of the key features of the building is a wing devoted to excellence in teaching. The University relocated the Institute for Faith and Learning, the Academy for Teaching and Learning and the Cherry Award Office to the second floor in the north wing. This provides an opportunity for unique partnership and collaboration among these areas in ways that were not possible before.
The building now houses the School of Education within the entire South Wing. The North Wing houses statistics, anthropology, communication studies and various other University departments and groups.
Marrs McLean is on track to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Rating by the U.S. Green Building Council for satisfying rigorous standards that address environmental impacts in the design, construction, operations and management of a building.