Frederick Fisher and Partners Frederick Fisher and Partners

McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation Ribbon-Cutting

Shady Side Academy is a top-tier independent college preparatory school in the Pittsburgh area.  Founded in 1883, the Academy prides itself on achieving academic excellence and innovation within a nurturing community, encouraging students to develop a strong sense of individuality and independence through critical thinking, creativity, and hands-on learning connected to real-life local and global issues.  

The Shady Side Academy Center of Science and Innovation is a two-story science instruction facility nestled within the pastoral hills of its senior school’s historic campus. The building is sited in such a way as to create a “gateway” formed by Rowe Hall and the new science building on the main entry road to campus.  In keeping with the campus’s Colonial Revival architectural aesthetic, a brick and glass façade complements the building’s context while simultaneously reinforcing its identity as a place of innovation, with details such as a glass frit pattern reminiscent of lung cells and microscopic steel structure highlighting its function as center of scientific inquiry.  The horseshoe-shaped form comprised of three conjoined bar elements helps break down the building’s comparatively bulky footprint on the Shady Side campus.  

Building access comes from multiple directions, and circulation runs around the horseshoe’s inner U, framing a three-sided outdoor courtyard for informal classes, gatherings, performances, and socializing.  In addition to accommodating combination classroom/lab spaces for physics, biology, chemistry, and independent project research—as well as ancillary support spaces such as lab prep rooms and faculty offices—the facility includes a multipurpose collaboration room/lounge for display, small group meetings or work/study.  This glassed-in, double-height space creates a sense of vertical connectivity, as well as a visual connection from the building’s most prominent public façade through to the central courtyard.  The building’s roof accommodates energy collection equipment, offering an opportunity to both further the Academy’s mission of environmental stewardship and serve as a teaching tool.