MacLean Engineering Sciences Center places creativity on display.
By Karen Endicott
Photographs by John Sherman
Two and a half years after its groundbreaking, MacLean Engineering Sciences Center was formally unveiled September 29, 2006 to a jubilant Thayer School community. A dedication ceremony held in the new atrium that links MacLean to Cummings Hall signaled the beginning of a new era for engineering education.
MacLean Engineering Sciences Center is far more than a 64,000-square-foot addition. It is the embodiment of Thayer School’s integrative approach to engineering. Designed according to the principle that creativity thrives in synergetic surroundings, MacLean’s open, flexible spaces provide new venues and means for applying Thayer School’s emphasis on hands-on learning, innovative research, and teamwork.
“MacLean’s distinctive design — mixing traditional with contemporary features — mirrors our approach to engineering education, in which we blend time-tested principles of engineering with innovation and emerging technologies,” Dean Joseph Helble stated at the dedication.
According to Professor William Lotko, chair of the building committee that oversaw Thayer School’s expansion, MacLean conveys the process of technology. “To a Dartmouth engineer, technology is the outcome of an intensive process of research, need assessment, brainstorming, conception, feasibility evaluation, modeling, resource procurement, design, experimentation, analysis, prototype development, iteration, iteration, iteration, and then voilá — technology,” he explained at the dedication. “When the faculty started expressing the idea to architects Fred Koetter and Susie Kim that there was something visual and inherently interesting about the messy engineering process, they got it immediately. They accepted the challenge to develop a MacLean Center that would give form and substance to the fuzzy idea of ‘revealing engineering.’ You can see a vivid expression of this idea in the entire wall of the building, inside and out, but especially in the atrium, where it appears that MacLean indeed has been sheared open to reveal the inner workings of engineering.”
The result is a building that welcomes people into engineering. For students and faculty, easy observation of works in progress invites new ideas and associations. For visitors to Thayer — from prospective students to non-engineers — MacLean is a window into the ingenuity and creativity of engineering.
Increasing Thayer School’s facilities by more than 60 percent, the Engineering Sciences Center, named for lead donors Barry ’60 Th’61 and Mary Ann MacLean, provides space for strategic growth in an environment that fosters community and close student-faculty interaction.
Combining soaring beauty with exacting functionality, MacLean Engineering Sciences Center will not merely house the work of Thayer School. For decades to come it will inspire and enable students and faculty to reach new heights of innovation in education and research.
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