University of Kansas Earth, Energy & Environment Center
Transparency of programs and processes bridge higher education research and industry partners, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and engagement.
The Earth, Energy and Environment Center (EEEC) at the University of Kansas is the first venue for this Tier 1 research institution with engagement of local and national business partners as its primary mission. This new home for geoscience and petroleum engineering creates a central point for all energy and environment research and learning on campus. Strategically located adjacent to key collaborating institutions and programs, EEEC facilitates interdisciplinary partnerships and provides a hub for industry outreach, 3D visualization, and active-learning classroom resources.
Located at the convergence of the community and campus grids, the facility responds to each by breaking the mass into two buildings, each relating to its immediate context—learning spaces aligned with academic context and industry outreach and research aligned with community context. The building’s massing is further reduced by using the site’s significant grade change to push programs below grade, helping to relate building massing to the scale of the surrounding historic campus context. Walkways connect the two buildings of EEEC to each other and to the adjacent engineering and geology buildings, promoting interdisciplinary connectivity and collaboration within the classroom, labs, and social areas of the building.
A continuous circulation spine navigates three floors of elevation change, connecting all major programs to the public spaces of the building.
Interior transparencies put learning on display, prioritizing daylighting and connections to the building’s research laboratories. This transparency of programs creates a valuable view into the research, processes, and resources that are propelling innovation linked directly to industry and our economy, further eliciting inquiry and knowledge of the programs and partnerships supporting the University’s research mission.
Co-locating conference space and industry hoteling office space directly adjacent to their respective research lab components provides a unique bridge between higher education research and industry partners that is both fluid and intentional. This strategy creates opportunities for student and researcher engagement as a part of everyday activity.
A series of ‘floating’ glass boxes provide meeting space that is engaged from multiple dimensions, creating overlap of student, faculty, and professional communities. This unique, yet deliberate, overlap and transparency of programs continually connects academia to industry and real-world experiences.
The tonal terracotta façade provides a respectful, modern stitch in the historic limestone campus fabric. Extensive glazing activates exterior space and promotes interdisciplinary campus connections through program visibility. Subtle texture variations in the terracotta panels identify Kansas’ geologic layers, making the building an educational tool for the research within.
As a venue for partnerships between private industry and higher education research, a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and learning, and a building-as-teaching-tool for geologic studies, the new Earth, Energy and Environment Center at the University of Kansas provides a unique focal point at the center of a historic main campus.
The research labs they designed focused on our desire to promote interdisciplinary research and created research neighborhoods...Although this is an interdisciplinary teaching and research space, Multistudio did not forget the importance of the feel for our student occupants, creating comfortable collaboration and study areas that attract many into the building.
Bob Goldstein Associate Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics & Provost’s Special Advisor for Campus Development, University of Kansas
Honorable Mention Design Award
AIA St. Louis
Merit Award for Interior Architecture
Learning by Design Magazine
Outstanding Project Award
Engineering News Record ‑ Midwest
Best Project ‑ Higher Education/Research
Associated General Contractors ‑ Kansas City
Building Excellence Award ‑ Project of the Year
University of Kansas