The multi-disciplinary building of approximately 103,000 square feet includes contemporary classrooms and multi-purpose laboratories that support today’s hands-on, experiential science curricula. Offering considerably more space than the previous campus science facility, the IDEA Center expands opportunities for faculty-student research and facilitates access to research and information. The building features 32 laboratory classrooms, 40 offices, 16 lecture rooms, a 108-seat auditorium, and a domed observatory housing a 24-inch telescope with an astronomical high-resolution image camera. Native landscaping and a decorative pond offer environmental education opportunities as well as aesthetic features. The center houses the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, mathematics, and physics.
The IDEA Center was awarded LEED® Gold in a rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. The design of the IDEA Center incorporates green building standards including construction materials that support efficient energy consumption, ecologically friendly construction techniques, solar shading and natural light, and rooftop rainwater collection for irrigation of native landscaping, among other aspects.
Begun in June 2011, the IDEA Center opened for classes in Fall Term 2013.
The building design itself exhibits science at work by taking advantage of solar shading and natural light, incorporating efficient mechanical systems, and landscaping with native vegetation. Features of the new complex reduce the building’s energy consumption and establish a new campus standard for the design, construction, and operation of environmentally friendly buildings.
One highlight of the facility is the Adams Observatory, equipped with a state-of-the-art telescope to provide a window to the universe. College officials anticipate the observatory will allow further outreach to the larger community and school children across North Texas once the equipment is calibrated and tested.
In May 2014, Austin College President Emeritus Oscar Page was surprised by President Marjorie Hass and former Board of Trustees chairs Robert Wright and Robert Johnson with the announcement of the naming of the Oscar C. Page Atrium in the new center.