Delaware State University Optical Sciences Center for Applied Research

Delaware State University Optical Sciences Center for Applied Research

Dover, DE

An Institutional Identity that Reflects its Research

The Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) is a state-of-the-art research facility where cutting edge technologies are utilized to solve real-world problems through grant-based research with partners such as NASA, National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense. The building supports programs in optics and related imaging applications within the Department of Physics and Pre-Engineering. Working closely with the University, CM, and Principal Investigators Richärd Kennedy Architects guided the programming and planning for the building as the first of an envisioned two building 70,000 sf complex, prioritizing elements of a comprehensive program for the highest impact in the initial phase. OSCAR provides new flexible optics labs developed in several formats, a nano chemistry lab, and a shared wet lab, all addressing space needs for current research and future growth.

A portion of the facility is a business incubator dedicated to fostering the development of start-up companies built on innovative applications of optical research creating ties between the academic and private sectors. Similarly, a dedicated suite of specialized microscopes and imaging equipment, including a scanning electron microscope, is used for on-site research and also made available to outside researchers offering the capabilities of the center to the broader research community. A mediated conferencing center also allows DSU to host or virtually attend lectures, conferences, and events worldwide intended for the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Together these resources foster more robust engagement with the business and research communities, attract new investigators, and increase grant funding, while growing and raising the profile of the University its research in the field of optics. With these goals in mind, the building is intentionally designed to create an iconic institutional identity through form, function and experience.

Internally, dynamic interdisciplinary common spaces surround a multi-level central light well and communicating stair promoting opportunities for quality personal interactions and the exchange of ideas and collaboration. Labs are consolidated on one side of the triangular plan for systems efficiency and vibration control. The remaining two contain offices, conference, and support spaces.

OSCAR is the first building on camps to designed to meet LEED silver certification and to utilize an active chilled beam system as part of an energy efficient HVAC strategy.

Project facts

Design Architect:  Richärd Kennedy Architects

Architect of Record: Becker Morgan Group

Client:  Delaware State University

Size:  27,000 SF

Project Type:  Science + Technology, Higher Education

Services:  Architecture, Master Planning, Programming, Planning, Sustainability, Interior Design

Delivery Method:  Design Bid Build

General Contractor:  Whiting Turner Contracting Company

MEP Engineer:  Ballinger

Structural Engineer:  Ballinger

Civil Engineer:  Becker Morgan Group

Landscape Design Architect:  Landscape Architectural Services

Photographer:  Halkin | Mason

Certification:  LEED Silver (equivalent)

Press & Awards

2016   AIA Western Mountain Region, Honor Award

2016   DVASE, Excellence in Structural Engineering


The concept of the building is shaped around the prism as an iconic device in optics research. The geometry and optical properties of the prism transforms the nature of the light it reflects and that passing through it. In the same way, the architecture of the new optics center mimics the geometry of the prism and is transformed by its reflective skin as it fades into the landscape and sky, its form being defined and dissolved by ambiguities of perceived solidity and transparency.

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