Academy of Notre Dame de Namur

Riley Center for STEM Education

To enhance a key educational philosophy of teaching young women “what they need to know for life,” this new facility enables a range of dynamic teaching styles and active learning. The entire facility is designed to enable technology enabled active learning (TEAL).

The eight science laboratories, which are rotated 45 degrees to maximize the ideal solar exposure and views, include chemistry, biology, physics, environmental science and design & innovation. The building also features a “Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship Classroom and Lab” as well as a “Design and Innovation Lab,” which provide space for hands-on design and innovation, robotics and coding.

To allow for a deeper learning experience, the Center connects indoor and outdoor teaching spaces. The building’s backyard is an amphitheater, biopond and restored garden, allowing teaching of astronomy, geoscience, environmental science, biology and environmental chemistry to spill into the outside. The extended teaching and research space is another means for collaboration and project-based learning.

The STEM Gallery is the thread that binds the facility, providing space for student collaboration outside the classroom, views into classrooms and science on display.

The Center is targeting LEED Gold certification with sustainable strategies that include solar orientation, extensive daylighting and views, efficient building systems and metering, integrated recycling stations and resource efficient materials.


Villanova, Pennsylvania


30,000 GSF


Programming and laboratory planning and design




SMP Architects