Colorado State University now has a state-of-the-art home dedicated to key, dynamic areas of chemistry research. The Chemistry Research Building, which opens Aug. 14, is a 60,000-square-foot, hood-intensive facility that houses 11 faculty labs, as well as dozens of researchers, graduate students and undergraduates.
Funded primarily by the state of Colorado, the $55.4 million building promises to bring new levels of innovation to the university, the region and the globe. “Our chemistry department continues to be at the forefront of discovery,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “They have done so for many years, despite cramped and aging infrastructure. This new building provides the department room to grow and fosters research excellence in cutting-edge chemistry – scientific discoveries we haven’t yet even imagined.”
The new building’s labs are not the standard, fractured silos. Instead, the building is constructed around four central flexible, open lab spaces. Each floor’s main lab is centered around a particular area of research excellence. “It allows researchers and students to openly collaborate and share ideas,” said Chuck Henry, professor and chair of the chemistry department.
In addition to ideas, resources can also be shared more easily in the new design. “More sharing of chemicals can help us minimize quantities of reagents, and more sharing of equipment and instrumentation can help us stretch research funds,” says Professor Matthew Shores, whose team is moving into the new building.
In the first-floor lab, researchers are focused on materials chemistry. On the second floor, the research is centered on inorganic and polymer chemistry. Faculty and others are working on synthetic organic chemistry in the third-floor lab. And on the fourth floor, research is geared toward chemical biology. Visitors to the building will be able to see more of the research going on inside, thanks to ample, windowed corridors around each floor.
The building also includes student research areas as well as dedicated collaboration spaces. Beyond what meets the eye, the building is equipped with robust – yet highly efficient – ventilation and plumbing.
About 100 people will work in the new LEED Gold-certified building, while another 150 will continue to research and work in the existing Chemistry Building. The main departmental office will remain in its current location. Future renovations will update the building’s space and provide for more flexible labs – and will allow the widely used Central Instrument Facility to expand to the entire basement.
The building project, designed by Hord Coplan Macht and built by Haselden Construction, was kicked off in fall 2015 with a joint groundbreaking ceremony with the new Biology Building. And in summer 2016 the department and construction crews celebrated the building’s halfway point by signing an interior wall of the building.
The structure was built in tandem with the Biology Building next door, allowing both projects to minimize costs and create a thoughtful, new, unified science corridor. The evolving CSU Science Mall includes bike and pedestrian paths, outdoor seating areas, native plant landscaping, and an integrated storm water recapture system.
The new building’s labs are coming online now for the start of the fall semester. Later in the season, the college will celebrate with a double grand opening ceremony for this building and the Biology Building over Homecoming and Family Weekend.