Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at SUNY Stony Brook

Dirtworks Landscape Architecture: The SUNY Simons Center for Geometry and Physics focuses on mathematical physics and the underlying geometry of nature. The institution required Dirtworks, PC to create a setting that enhances interdisciplinary cooperation among resident researchers (specifically between the departments of physics and mathematics) and deepen an appreciation of the center’s work for the larger university community. The Center advances the Governor’s effort to make Stony Brook University a “flagship” of the SUNY system that could rival the nation’s most prestigious state-funded research universities. And while this facility is meant to be inviting to SUNY at large, its design is meant primarily to serve the peripatetic interests of the Center’s researchers, faculty, and students.

Working in close collaboration with scientists, faculty, and the design team, Dirtworks was a major contributor to the project’s educational goals, sustainability mission and state of the art technology. Working on a one-acre site within an intensively developed campus, the designers created engaging settings to promote cross-field collaboration and weave together engineering technology, science and art, with the desire to expand intellectual discourse.


Dirtworks, PC was responsible for the planning, design and technical coordination of all site elements. A water feature engineered to act as a cooling agent for the building mechanical system was integrated within the landscape to create a distinctive introduction to the Center, which received LEED Gold Certification. Custom designed sine wave planters emphasize the action of wind on grasses. Penrose paving patterns add interest when viewed from upper levels of the Center.

Dirtworks, PC developed a series of interior and exterior spaces to encourage discussion, collaboration, relaxation and socialization. Strategic planter arrangements allow areas for quiet thinking to be near casual socialization spaces, while slate walls with stainless steel chalk ledges encourage spontaneous discourse. In addition, since significant portions of the project were located over structures that contained sensitive equipment, the design required careful architectural and engineering coordination.

Institution: Stony Brook University/The State University of New York
Project Name: Simons Center for Geometry and Physics
Location: Stony Brook, New York
Size: 1 acre; 2 green roofs
Date of Completion: 2010
LEED Certification: Gold
Award: 2014 Excellence in Landscape Architecture-General Design, Honor Award, Society for College & University Planners
Landscape Architect: David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA
Organization: Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC
Architect: Perkins Eastman Architects, PC
Photographer: Mark Weinberg

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