DRAW Collective is working with Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) to renovate and refresh the chemistry lab suite on their Youngwood Campus. The suite consists of two general chemistry labs, an organic chemistry lab, an instrumentation lab, and lab support spaces. These spaces have been in continuous use for nearly thirty years, and it was important to WCCC to update them to provide students with a modern learning environment. The current configuration of the lab spaces included elevated lab services at each bench with a central trough-style sink which prevented visual observation of student experiments and limited accessibility. These labs are a heavily used space on campus, and completing the renovation with minimal disruption to their use is a key consideration for this project.
To improve sight lines within lab spaces and interaction between faculty and students, the services currently elevated above the lab bench will be reconfigured to bring them down onto the bench surface. Within each lab space, a portion of a bench surface will be lowered to create accessible work stations and sinks. These areas will be located adjacent to new accessible fume hoods to minimize travel distances. By moving the lab services down to the bench surface, more surface area will be made available for student experiments while improving the visual connections between students and to the instructor.
Because the chemistry labs are such heavily utilized spaces, maintaining their operation throughout the construction process is a key consideration for the project.
DRAW is working closely with the chemistry faculty to understand the class schedules and lab utilization for each of the spaces. Based on this information, DRAW has developed a construction sequencing plan to allow chemistry courses to continue throughout the renovation process.
DRAW is working closely with WCCC to develop a plan for the chemistry labs to improve their usability and accessibility as well as to develop a construction sequence that minimizes the impact to ongoing classes. As a result, WCCC will have an upgraded and improved space to teach chemistry with minimal disruption to their ongoing operations.