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many disciplines, one space
many disciplines, one space

The Oberlin Science Center houses the biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and physics departments. (Geology is located in the nearby Carnegie Building.) The architecture was designed specifically to accommodate contemporary methods in science education. Everything is interconnected, promoting what Danforth Professor of Biology David Benzing has called the "culture of science," an environment in which communication across disciplines happens frequently and in which scientists work collaboratively in research teams.

Each discipline has its own area of the building, with associated faculty offices and laboratories, classrooms, instructional laboratories, student-research labs, and seminar rooms. Common areas—the science library, a first-floor atrium, a second-floor lounge, and two computer labs—tie the disciplines together. The structure makes it easy for faculty members and students from all departments to meet and mingle with one another.

The building design also facilitates cost-effective sharing of instrumentation: the neuroscience and biology departments both use Oberlin's confocal microscope, for example, and the scanning electron microscope is shared among the physics, biology, and geology departments. Placement of instrumentation within the building has also been carefully considered, so that needed equipment is adjacent to related student and faculty laboratories.

The building contains three lecture halls. The West Auditorium, a two-story space that is the largest hall on campus, is used by all departments in the center. The Norman C. Craig Lecture Hall, a round lecture hall that is one of the most distinctive spaces on campus, is used primarily by the physics and chemistry departments. The physics department also uses the third lecture hall, located on the second floor of the Wright Laboratory of Physics.

While used primarily by the departments it houses, the Oberlin Science Center is open to all departments in the College. Many students come into the building for lectures or films in the West Auditorium. And the building's central location on campus, inviting common spaces, large lecture halls, and beautiful science library attract people from all over the campus to study or relax.

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