Plans for science building on track for 2013 completion
Published: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2009 03:09
Plans are in the works for a new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, which will be located on the corner of Lovett Avenue and Academy Street, by the summer of 2013.
Provost Tom Apple said the new building is part of the university's effort to increase their strength in the areas of science and engineering, a key goal in the university's strategic plan for the Path to Prominence.
"One of the big pushes in the Path to Prominence is to become much stronger in areas of science and engineering, and in particular to move forward and attack problems in energy, the environment, and health sciences," Apple said. "In order to do that, we need both more space for teaching in the sciences and more space for research. The new building is meant to help with both of those problems."
Executive Vice President and Treasurer Scott Douglass said the building was initially planned to increase classroom space, but will now include a multitude of research labs as well.
"Originally, it was focused entirely on classroom teaching labs for biology, physics, and chemistry, and then over time we realized that we were short research labs as well," Douglass said. "Combining a research lab building with a teaching building would be great for the faculty, but it would also be a great opportunity for the undergrads to see the real thing going on next to them."
In addition to the new labs and classrooms, the new building will be home to the university's Energy Institute, which is currently locsted in the Colburn Lab, and the Delaware Environmental Institute.
Donald Sparks, director of the Delaware Environmental Institute, said he is excited to be a part of the new building.
"The whole idea is to try to bring groups together from different disciplines," Sparks said. "Within science and engineering today, there's a lot of emphasis on interdisciplinary interactions between students and faculty because a lot of the research that we're trying to address and a lot of the topics that students are interested in cross boundaries between different areas."
Sparks said the new building will boast state-of-the-art equipment and research space.
There would be a series of labs that would have equipment that would be for general use, and then there would be a series of research labs that would bring faculty together from across campus that will be environmentally oriented or energy oriented, Sparks said.
"There would be a lab that would be associated with microscopic techniques, like electron microscopy, there will be another one that would have spectroscopic equipment in it, and another facility that would have things like gas chromatography and ion chromatography."
Neeloo Bhatti-McAndrew, assistant director of the Energy Institute, said she is also looking forward to the collaboration of the different areas of science that will take place in the building.
"Whenever it does get built, certainly it will be very good in terms of bringing the different disciplines in the energy field together," Bhatti-McAndrew said.
She said the Energy Institute currently only has some very basic equipment and the equipment in the new building will be a huge help.
Bhatti-McAndrews said the main issue isgetting the money for it.
"The goal is we will have a space of our own and do our own research," she said.
"We don't know how that's going to all shake out, she said. "We're talking quite a lot of money, she."
Douglass, who is ultimately in charge of the financial and construction aspects of the project, said it was too early to determine exactly how the university will pay for the building. He said the total cost of the project would be approximatly $125 million.
"I've been doing some preliminary estimates on that, but we're not ready in any way to release that kind of information publicly, Douglass said. Even the $125 million cost is an estimate at this point."
"We're hoping for about $20 million to $30 million in grants and we're hoping for about $50 million in gifts," Apple said. This leaves around $50 million dollars unaccounted for.
"We're going to some foundations and some other things, and then we're going to get some from other sources like working capital," he said.
Douglass said he isn't sure when construction on the building will begin.
"We might actually start digging for the foundation and those types of things before the actual construction documents are done," he said. "It will take us at least a year to design the building."
However, Douglass said it will be worth the wait.
"I think what we're doing on the teaching side, as well as the emphasis on interdisciplinary research on the faculty side, is going to make it a very exciting building for the university."