Science Crossroads at Harrelson

Suggested future plans for the space left by Harrelson Hall include the Science Crossroads, a multi-floor structure with an atrium and interactive screens.   

Following this summer’s demolition of Harrelson Hall, the Brickyard’s iconic cylindrical building, university officials are discussing ideas for another building to take its place.

Chris Johnson, an NC State architect and facilities manager, says that the process of constructing a new building is a long way off, but conceptual planning is in the works.

“In short term, the site will be an extension of the university Brickyard, and it will be landscaped and hardscaped, honoring the circular shape of Harrelson with some new pathways and areas for seating, and the next phase will be for what we are calling an imagination lab, or pop-up lab,” Johnson said.

The imagination lab would be an area for student research and for students from all the departments of the College of Sciences to collaborate.  The lab could also be open across the universities, allowing researchers from NC State to collaborate with other well-known researchers outside of campus.

The imagination lab is about bringing people of different sciences together, such as those who study physics, chemistry and biology, working on a lab that corresponds to all three, according to Holly Menninger, director of public science in the College of Sciences.

“We’re thinking a lot about the pop-up lab, thinking about what actually needs to go in there,” Menninger said. “We expect a prototype to go out in the next year.”

William Ditto, dean of the College of Sciences, proposed a building focused on the sharing of ideas.

“Dean Ditto has proposed a building called the Crossroads Building … [to] bring together students of different sciences, supporting more human interaction and creativity,” Menninger said.

Details for the building have not been confirmed as the building is just an idea, not a definite plan. However, the building is intended to be inclusive to all students, providing a platform for communication and collaboration.

The Crossroads Building would act as part of the “imagination corridor,” which is the stretch of science buildings running from David Clarke Labs to Poe Hall. This building would be a connection to all these classes and therefore be a means of bringing students of different sciences together.

“This is being called a crossroads or a science crossroads and it’s at the center of the imagination corridor, and in the short term, the site is going to be an extension of the University Plaza (Brickyard), and in the midterm it will become a site for the imagination lab,” Johnson said.

Other proposals to utilize the Brickyard’s void include an Exploratorium, where the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences could showcase some of its items.

Also proposed is a sky lab, which would be an area for citizen scientists to study, interact and perform rooftop experiments. 

“We’ve looked at the possibility of creating something where people can experiment with air flow, we could take the atmospheric studies department and they could have a presence over here,” Johnson said. “I’m not entirely sure what that would be.”

Many ideas are still being proposed and the plans are still in the early stages. While it is possible that none of these ideas will come to fruition, they will likely act as stepping-stones toward a final plan.

A version of this article appeared in print on September 22, 2016 on page 4 with the headline: Replacing Harrelson Hall.