When Omni’s staff begins their design process for a new project, they go to great lengths to program the building to accommodate all user groups and anticipated functions, but sometimes our buildings are used in delightful and unexpected ways. At Eastern Kentucky University, the New Science Building was designed with the obvious classrooms and laboratories for the various branches of Science that are taught in the building, but it was also designed with features we humans crave on a basic level: exposure to daylighting and views; large, open areas with comfortable seating to provide opportunities for students and faculty to study, collaborate, and socialize; and there are moments inside and outside the building for hands-on teaching and learning. Since the completion of Phase 1, the building has been praised by faculty and staff for its contributions to improved outcomes and an increase in Science majors, but most recently it played a major role in a milestone of another type: a wedding.

On a perfect September day, Dr. Judy Jenkins, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at EKU, and Dr. Leonard (Lenny) Demoranville, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Centre College, declared “I do” before friends and family in the sunlight-filled atrium of the New Science Building. A science building may not be the first choice for most couples when selecting a wedding and reception venue, but for two chemistry professors who are no strangers to experimentation, a non-traditional venue was an intriguing option. According to Jenkins, “I’ve always thought that the New Science Building is beautiful.  Phase 1 was completed before I was hired at EKU, so when I was interviewing, I knew that I would very much enjoy coming to work in the NSB.  It’s the natural light that regularly captures me. I moved to Kentucky from Tucson, Arizona, so I really crave the sunlight!”
 
When the couple began planning the wedding, they identified celebration as their key goal.  As they arranged the details, they pursued options that allowed the freedom and flexibility to celebrate in ways that were special to them.  “My husband and I are both chemistry professors, and we knew that we’d want to have a ‘First Experiment’ as part of our celebration.  We didn’t have an ideal venue in mind, but we knew we wanted to be indoors in an open, naturally lit space if possible. We also like the idea of combining the ceremony and reception in a single venue.”
 
After Jenkins attended two events in the NSB lobby, the choice of a venue for her wedding became clear. As she recalls, “On October 23rd, 2014, President Benson led the Phase 2 groundbreaking ceremony in the lobby.  I realized that the space could accommodate a certain level of formality, even though it feels very casual on a day-to-day basis.  I also saw that the furniture was all moveable, and chairs and a stage could be positioned.  A few days later, the students in our Crime & Chemistry Club partnered with the students in the Physics Club to host a Halloween costume party and cookout.  Laughter and silliness abounded!  The combination of these two events helped me see that hosting a wedding in the NSB Lobby might be both logistically feasible and quite enjoyable.” 
 
A few weeks later, her fiancé Lenny came with her to take a closer look at the NSB atrium as a possible wedding venue.  They realized they could hold the ceremony on one side and place tables for a meal on the other.  Jenkins reflected, “Because the space is so naturally pleasant with the incoming sunlight and high open ceilings, we realized that minimal decorating would be needed, which allowed us to focus more on the people celebrating with us. And then there was the staircase. The thought of walking down those stairs with my parents to greet my soon-to-be husband still makes my heart swell!”

It makes our hearts swell, too.