UCO Donald Betz STEM Research and Learning Center
University of Central Oklahoma STEM Teaching and Research Center

STEM DONE RIGHT.  The Donald Betz STEM Center by Rand Elliott Architects is a 53k SF state-of-the-art facility that builds on University of Central Oklahoma’s programs for the College of Math & Science.

The project focus was creating space that inspires, enhancing student use of research and simulated-work environments as well as collaboration. Architecturally, we sought to capture the history of the campus, yet also point to the future. Our concept was called “Now and Then.”

“Then” speaks to the west facade’s traditional masonry and clay tile roof – a nod to the rich history of the campus, largely to the west. “Now” is illustrated through the zinc cladding and glass facade on the east, where the campus will grow. The transition is a moment of surprise and discovery as we turn the corner from “past” into “future.”

Our goal was to bring the student an experience that enhances their education, creating a place that stimulates creative thinking and sparks innovation. We envisioned science and math as an abstract puzzle, the layering of information and “clues” hidden in plain sight – where students could experience the excitement of discovery and the reward of the search.

We planned for light to enter the building in new ways. Bright, reflective floors give way to high, open ceilings. An interior atrium slices through the building 36’ high and skylights fill the space with ever-changing, reflective energy. Windows skirt the building from top to bottom and light permeates the interior, creating a sense of energy. At dusk, the corner “jewel box” starts to glow as it begins to reveal the “puzzle” within.

A blue “thread” traces through the building, leading visitors along labs and classrooms with interactive glass walls. So, the ongoing work within can be seen by passersby. The design unites the different disciplines with several spaces where students and faculty can collaborate and innovate together. “Transformative Learning” classrooms include moveable furniture and high-definition displays that adapt to each discipline’s needs.

It was also designed as a recruitment tool for the best and brightest faculty and students, all while bringing national and international attention to the University’s strong STEM program. 

UCO STEM Teaching and Research Center programs:
• Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education & Research
• Forensic Science Institute & Molecular Biology
• Center for Research and Education Interdisciplinary Computation
• Nursing
• Math & Computer Science Collaborative Research Suite
• Interdisciplinary Shared Learning Space

Full Gallery