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Emphasizing science for students; Goal: A new addition to an established center at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland features small classes and laboratories for instruction and research in chemistry and biology.


AT LARGE universities, it's not uncommon to find science buildings with side-by-side laboratories for teaching and research. Or "state of the science" microscopes and other equipment for the most complicated experiments.

First-rate science facilities can be more difficult to find at smaller, liberal arts colleges that have fewer science majors.

But at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland -- a 104-year-old women's college in North Baltimore -- students enjoy small classes and top-notch spaces for science, now that a $9 million addition to the main science building on campus has been completed.

The Knott Science Center addition, which opened this year, features laboratories for instruction and research in chemistry and biology, "smart" classrooms and faculty offices.

Along with the building the college has acquired new equipment and instruments, including an Atomic Force Microscope/Scanning Tunneling Microscope system that helps students understand the structure and bonding of atoms. The college purchased it with a National Science Foundation grant and is the only undergraduate institution in the area to own one.

"We're a small liberal arts school that now has state-of-the-art facilities that you'd find at a large university," said Rick Staisloff, the college's vice president for financial affairs. "It's the best of both worlds."

The Women's College Coalition, a nationwide group based in Washington, D.C., says students in women's colleges tend to pursue science majors, graduate degrees and careers in greater numbers than women in co-educational institutions.

Administrators and faculty members at Notre Dame say that the science center addition is a powerful symbol of the college's commitment to the education of women in a broad range of scientific fields and that it has been well received.

"As educators, we're knowledge builders," said Sister Trinitas Bochini, professor of psychology. The new building "reflects what the college is, and what the college is moving toward."

Designers worked closely with faculty members to create spaces that were uniformly pleasant, yet tailored for each discipline, said Peter Hoffman, biology department chairman. "This is a big improvement," he said. "The architects have done a good job in making it light and open. There's a nice balance between research space and teaching space. It's not standardized."

The 40,000-square-foot building will be dedicated during a campuswide celebration at 3 p.m. tomorrow. The event is open to the public and will be followed by tours and demonstrations of student projects. The college will hold a President's Gala there at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Notre Dame has more than 3,000 students in a variety of programs.

The three-story science center addition is the latest in a series of improvements on the 58-acre campus at 4701 N. Charles St. Others include renovation of Meletia Hall, a 90-year-old student residence; construction of a "loop road" and removal of some roads to create more green space; and wiring of buildings to link them with the Internet. Now that the science addition is complete, the college plans to upgrade the original building, constructed in 1967.

The design team for the Knott addition was headed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects of New York and George Vaeth Associates of Columbia, with SST Planners of Arlington, Va., as the lab planner and Ann Stokes of Norfolk, Va., as the landscape architect. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. was the construction manager.

Stern, an internationally known architect, also developed a master plan to guide campus improvements and was responsible for the Meletia Hall renovation. This is his first new building in the Baltimore area.

While the addition's interior boasts modern equipment and spaces, the brick-clad exterior has a traditional look. Planners wanted the new building to be compatible with the older buildings on campus as well as the original Knott building.

"This is a real landmark for us on campus," Staisloff said. "There's a real attention to detail and quality. It's a very strong statement."

Mount Vernon Place is focus of talk on Olmsteds

The Friends of Maryland's Olmsted Parks and Landscapes will sponsor a presentation, "An Urban Arcadia Revisited: The Olmsteds at Mt. Vernon Place," at 7: 30 p.m. Tuesday at the Engineers Club, 11 W. Mount Vernon Place.

The talk on the Olmsteds, a famous family of landscape architects, will be part of the group's annual meeting.

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