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New Cal Poly Research and Innovation Center includes features for a COVID-19 world

University Buildings

New Cal Poly Research and Innovation Center includes features for a COVID-19 world

ZGF Architects is designing the building.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | July 15, 2020
Cal Poly Frost Center exterior

All renderings courtesy ZGF Architects

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s newest addition to its campus, The William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation, is currently under construction.

The four-story, 103,800-sf Center is dedicated to undergraduate students who engage in faculty-mentored research each year and work side-by-side with professors. The Frost Center will bring three colleges together under one roof: the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Mathematics, and the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences. It is designed to support the educational priorities of a growing student and faculty population, promote interdisciplinary communities, and provide academic space.


Cal Poly Frost Center exterior and green space


Included within the building are 19 flexible laboratory and teaching spaces, large general-purpose classrooms, collaboration areas, faculty/staff offices, a recording studio, editing bays, a high-end computer lab, and a teaching kitchen. The teaching kitchen is showcased on the first floor and is highly visible from the atrium.


Cal Poly exterior and entrance


The modularly planned laboratories provide flexibility for any future changes and can be combined to produce large, open laboratories or subdivided to produce small instrument or special-use laboratories. A “big room” for the College of Liberal Arts will give students a space where they can create, perform, test, record, and display their work for passersby along the adjacent hallways and exterior pathways.

Passive design strategies and natural ventilation will create a healthy building for occupants. 100% outside air from air handling units and operable windows in offices allow the building to avoid the recirculation of air that might provide an avenue for airborne exposure to viruses such as COVID-19.


Cal Poly entrance area


The project is designed to achieve LEED Gold and includes sustainable features such as passive heating and cooling strategies, will consume 30% less potable water, and will have the capacity to accommodate future rooftop solar panels.


See Also: Apartments and condos occupy what was once a five-story car dealership


The William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation is slated for completion in late 2021.


Cal Poly interior

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