Science Made Visible: A transformed complex beckons the Wellesley community to Science Hill

Neuroscience students work together in a spacious lab filled with natural light.
Image credit: Webb Chappell
Author  Story by Catherine O’Neill Grace; Video by Amber Celletti
Published on 

From College Road, the approach is familiar: A path that curves through a meadow leads to a set of shallow concrete stairs that carries you to the south entrance of the Science Complex, with its iconic exposed concrete frame and orange and blue ductwork. There’s a hint of changes to come with the new Amabel Boyce James ’74 Front Porch, located under the overhang of the 1977 L-wing, where students study and socialize outdoors. And once past the door, the transformation is obvious, and exhilarating. You immediately notice the light.

“When you walk into the building for the first time, it takes your breath away,” says Ann Velenchik, associate professor of economics and writing, who served as the College’s executive sponsor, overseeing the multiyear Science Complex planning and construction project. “The light feels transformative.”

Up the stairs from the data lounge is the Faroll Focus, which previously felt gloomy except on the brightest days. Here, light floods in through a new rank of clerestory windows on the north side of the upper level. More light beckons the visitor to walk toward the brand-new Chao Foundation Innovation Hub, perhaps to snag a bright green armchair and spend a few moments contemplating the landscape through expansive new windows—or to take a look at what’s going on behind the windows of the Shared Faculty Research Lab for Environmental Science.

This is an excerpt from an article by Catherine O’Neill Grace that appears in the spring edition of “Wellesley” magazine. Read the full story on the magazine website.