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Ivan Hilton Center for Science and Technology: An Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory at New Mexico Highlands University

Punit Jain, Cannon Design

Ivan Hilton Center for Science and Technology is a multidisciplinary undergraduate teaching laboratory, at a small university in northern New Mexico located in the historic community of Las Vegas.

The project intends to promote undergraduate research, and make science careers more attractive to a diverse regional population that includes 60 percent Hispanic and 50 percent female students. This presentation will demonstrate design concepts that successfully realized these goals. The presentation will show how sustainable design strategies have enhanced the experience for both students and faculty. The presentation will also show how modular and flexible lab planning strategies have made this building more efficient for both teaching and research activity (lab modules have the capability of being converted from research activities to more conventional teaching use, and vice versa), how common spaces in the building foster interaction and learning and how science on display through views into labs and display opportunities in common areas make learning a more rewarding experience.

Several strategies are being employed: first, the teaching lab is being designed to incorporate functions that are more prevalent in research labs (i.e., space for individual student setups can remain over time to foster more in-depth research); second, faculty offices are located proximate to teaching and research labs to encourage student interaction with faculty; third, lab areas are designed for visibility to the adjacent corridors so that experimental activities are on display to passersby, thus stimulating interest. Spaces are designed for display of artifacts and equipment related to science research and career options. The use of natural light, views and stimulating colors, and materials make the laboratory a more comfortable learning environment.

Two major site characteristics became a design, schedule, and construction challenge, and would be very interesting for the audience. The site was an ancient burial ground, which had a car maintenance shop for many years as its last use, which in turn was abandoned many years ago.

An intelligent client is an architect's dream and New Mexico Highlands University was one resulting in a modular, flexible, energy efficient, and innovative design that should serve the user for many years to come.

Labs21 Connection:

The project team took an inclusive and holistic integrated design approach right from the beginning to facilitate a smooth transition from existing to new.

The design concept is based on the principles of sustainability, flexibility, and adaptability. It is based on the principles that would foster collaboration, interaction, and innovation. It is based on strategies that would result in energy efficiency, human comfort, easy maintenance, operation, and management. The design allows for safety of its users and their research. The design incorporates elements that will allow multiuse of spaces during evening hours and summer months when classes are not in session. The design incorporates Low Constant Volume Fume Hoods that enhance safety, are simple to use and provide huge operational energy savings and smaller head end equipment.


Punit Jain received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Roorkee in India. He holds a Master of Architecture and a Masters in Construction Management from Washington University in St. Louis. With over 15 years of experience in the practice of architecture in India and the U.S., he is currently employed as an Associate Vice President with Cannon Design, an international architectural, engineering, and interior design firm. As a leader of the team dedicated to researching technological and industry innovation and sustainability in the field of science and research buildings, he is involved in the design, research, and planning of complex assignments. He has extensive experience in designing Public, Education, and Healthcare facilities.

Mr. Jain is a LEED™ Accredited professional and chairs the Outreach Committee of the St. Louis Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. As chair, he has established an advocacy program directed towards local governments, institutes of higher education, and building stakeholders to adopt LEED™. He is also the Sustainable Design Coordinator for the St. Louis office of Cannon Design.

He is currently working on the $70 million Health Sciences Research building at St. Louis University, and the $50 million Biomedical Research Building at Kansas University Medical Center and the Center for Applied Nanomedicine for Washington University in St. Louis. His other project experience includes the Kinesiology Research Center at University of Calgary; the Biomedical Research Development Complex Project at IIT Chicago; the New Mexico Highlands University Science and Technology Building in Las Vegas, NM; and the Advanced Technology Center at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, FL.

A Rotary Foundation Scholar and recipient of honor awards from the National Institute of Architectural Education, New York and the American Institute of Architects, St. Louis, he has been invited to present at professional conferences nationwide including Labs21, and MOBIO. He has also taught at the St. Louis Community College and at Maryville University.


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