Margaret Burke Lee Science and Health Careers Center

Des Plaines, Illinois / United States of America

As the gateway to Oakton Community College, the Margaret Burke Lee Science and Health Careers Center houses a new breed of interactive science spaces, celebrates the site’s natural highlights, and showcases sustainable advances.

The tiered composition reduces the building’s footprint, maintains passages into the campus, and shelters an outdoor plaza. Student study spaces and offices are situated for optimum views of the lake to the west, while corridors and classrooms exhibit the forest to the south. Piers raise the facility seven-and-a-half feet above ground in response to the flood hazard zone.

The first floor has an airy diagonal passage that displays the plaza and lake from the student study spaces and faculty offices. The remainder of this level houses physical science classrooms and labs.

The second floor, dedicated to health professions, has simulation, practice, and computer labs organized around a central spine. The west end contains two classrooms that frame a student study center. These spaces extend over the plaza.

A cantilevered glass corridor surrounds the third floor science spaces. Again, the student study space extends over the plaza and showcases the lake. Unique octagonal biology labs support collaborative learning, while triangular nooks serve as student breakout space.

Architect of Record

Legat Architects


Oakton Community College

General Contractor

Turner Construction Company


  • Harley Ellis Devereaux
  • Manhard Consulting
  • Henneman Engineering