A year and a month since its dedication, West Virginia University’s Life Sciences Building is drawing praise for its design.

The building’s architect, Payette Associates Inc. of Boston, has claimed the Honor Award from the West Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The project, meanwhile, has won a Merit Award from the International Masonry Institute as part of the 2003 Western Pennsylvania Golden Trowel Awards.

The facility, which houses WVU ’s biology and psychology departments, will also be profiled in a book published by the Max Plank Institute in Berlin. The book, a research building atlas, features premier research buildings from around the world.

“It’s always a nice honor when your projects receive awards from your peers,”said Kevin Sullivan, a partner with Payette Associates.”This project has a robust personality and was an ambitious undertaking, and I think it is for those reasons that it has received recognition.”

The $50 million building opened last fall at the corner of Campus Drive and University Avenue in the loop where old Mountaineer Field once stood. Officials from WVU and the state dedicated the facility Oct. 17, 2002.

The structure’s eight floors and 200,000 square feet house classrooms, teaching and research labs, a 250-seat auditorium, 125-seat auditorium, community mental health center, herbarium and greenhouse.

Copper, brick and glass make up the building’s exterior, and a copper clad canopy along the south side of the building protects offices from direct sunlight.

“Because this was the University’s first major science building in more than 40 years, one of our goals was to design a modern facility that respects the traditions of the local academic architecture yet projects the image that WVU is doing cutting-edge science,”Sullivan said.

Joe Fisher, associate vice president of facilities and services at WVU , said the honors bestowed on the Life Sciences Building support what the University has already been saying about the project.

“The University is very pleased with how well the building functions to meet our needs,”Fisher said.”It’s a nice honor to pick up design awards, and the recognition speaks volumes for our selection of Payette Associates as architect.”