BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky University is redefining what science courses look like in college.
Ogden College Hall was recently WELL certified for its health-conscious characteristics, by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). According to IWBI, a WELL building is one that creates healthy spaces using design strategies and other data to make buildings conducive to human behavior.
The 82,889 square foot building offers a state of the art lecture hall, 36 laboratories, and state of the art technology and design that increases the overall quality and comfortability of the building.
Ogden College Hall is the first WELL Version 2 Gold Certified educational laboratory in the country and is certified as the healthiest university lab building in the world. Upgrades to the building include new water and air filtration systems, new lab hoods for professors to have easier and safer access to chemicals for experiments and demonstrations.
The university worked alongside CMTA Incorporated to design the new building. Their goal was to make sure students had a safe place to learn.
“The one thing you really worry about is there maybe something in the air that maybe won’t hurt them now but maybe sometime in the future and so, air quality is such a big component. It's the biggest component of the WELL process” said Tracy Stewart, a consulting engineer for Ogden Hall as well as a parent of a student in the Biology program at WKU.
The new building features promote healthy living with reminders to exercise, accessible healthy snacks in the vending machines and an increased amount of water fountains placed throughout the building. According to the WELL program, people spend 90% of their time indoors, so when building the new educational space they wanted to make sure to create as many natural elements as possible.
More windows in the building allow for more sunlight which Dean Gregory Arbuckle says has been one of the students' favorite features.
“The students didn’t even realize there were lights in the area because of the amount of natural light in here,” says Arbuckle.
The study spaces have become a favorite for more than just students in the sciences.
“You go to any of the study rooms throughout the building, there are always people in those and its always funny because you can talk to them about 'oh what class are you waiting on' or 'what class did you just get out of' and its always I don’t have a class in this building I just come over here to use the building for study room,” says Arbuckle.
The $40 million building is filled with details to increase learning and allow students to see the beauty in science.
A giant periodic table is painted in one of the study spaces and a light fixture that reflects phase changes is in the main entryway, and students are happy to have a place that gets them excited around science.
“This is my favorite building to do labs in and study in, in my free time,” says WKU Student Sarah Alexander.
“With all the attributes of the WELL building I think the takeaway is that we’re hoping to have a positive impact on their performance and their success and just make them feel better as they’re going through these programs at WKU,” says Stewart.
The new educational laboratory received 73 out of 60 points needed to receive certification and the university hopes to continue building more spaces for students that will have a lasting impact on their educational experience.