By: Keli Ratcliffe

JMU Biosciences Building - Site Before


JMU Biosciences Building - Site After


JMU Biosciences Building - Innovative Site Design

James Madison University is known for its innovative and cutting edge research. It’s slogan, “changing the world since 1908,” says it all. Their website will tell you, it’s not just a slogan. It is Madison: a living, evolving university where change is the status quo. Anderson & Associates is excited to have been working on the cutting-edge campus for over 15 years. Our most recent project, the JMU CISAT, A3b Building, exemplifies the university’s visionary reputation.

The building is the first in a proposed series of buildings that will feature intimate gathering places and gardens reminiscent of the Bluestone Campus, one of the five parts of JMU’s Campus. It is designed to fit in seamlessly on the campus and will have a strong connectivity to existing buildings on all sides. A&A provided schematic, preliminary & working drawings for the civil/site design including site layout, grading, drainage, erosion & sediment control, stormwater management, water and sewer, permitting and construction phase services as subconsultants to EYP Architecture & Engineering, and worked with the contractor on the survey construction staking as subconsultants for Skanska USA Building, Inc. for this project. A&A also worked with Rhodeside & Harwell who designed the Landscape Architecture.

The landscape itself is particularly notable. Why? Because the goal of the design is to present the building and its site as teaching tools for environmental science and conservation. A green roof and rain gardens expose the conveyance and treatment of stormwater flowing through the site. The most challenging aspect of the site design was demonstrating stormwater conveyance and treatment through the landscape. Trying to achieve this in a subtle way was not easy. The design also had to meet local stormwater regulations for outdoor spaces providing accessibility for all user groups, and the space had to be able to be occupied on a steeply sloping site.

A&A worked closely with the design team to find a working solution. The design conveys runoff from the building roof through a rill system to the rain gardens, creating a holistic stormwater solution. To create a learning opportunity, steel grates were placed along the sidewalk between planting beds to visually expose the path of the stormwater allowing folks to observe the stormwater conveyance during and after a rain event.

This impressive 90,000 square foot facility earned silver-level LEED certification thanks to its innovative energy-saving techniques. For more information about this project, contact Keith Boyd at

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