New biology building taking shape, topped with ceremonial beam

It’s not every day that students, construction workers and CSU’s Board of Governors all get together for lunch – at an active construction site, no less.

beam signing
The College of Natural Sciences and Haselden Construction held a “topping out” celebration May 6 for the new Biology Building construction.

Earlier this month, all of the above assembled in the unfinished first floor of the College of Natural Sciences Biology Building for a celebratory BBQ, and to put their names on a little piece of CSU history.

Green and gold signatures

That piece of history is the final beam in the building’s structure. The new Biology Building will be the first new laboratory science facility built on campus in decades. And the beam, adorned with dozens of green and gold signatures (including those of CSU President Tony Frank and College of Natural Sciences Dean Jan Nerger), will be visible in the building’s eastern glassed-in stairway for generations of CSU students and faculty to come.

“Seven months ago we broke ground, and look where we are today,” Nerger said, smiling as she looked around at the open space that is still exposed concrete and steel but will soon be classrooms. Biology is one of the largest departments on campus, and more than 60 percent of all CSU undergraduates take at least one course in the department. So the new Biology Building, which will provide classroom space as well as state-of-the-art flexible research and teaching laboratories, will be an exceedingly important addition to the university.

Funded by students

beam topping
Onlookers cheer as the ceremonial beam is placed on the building.

In fact, the building has been largely funded by the students, who recognized a need for the improved facilities. “The students are what made this possible, so I especially want to thank them,” Nerger said at the event. She noted that the massive undertaking, which will result in a 151,560-square foot, LEED-certified building, has been a successful collaboration among students, the Department of Biology, the College of Natural Sciences, the university, donors and Haselden Construction. Such a project can’t be done alone, she said. “It takes a village.”

The building – along with the Chemistry Research Building being built next door – will mark the entrance to CSU’s Science Mall. Both buildings are scheduled to open for the fall 2017 semester.

After the BBQ, everyone gathered around the side of the building to watch as a massive crane hoisted the signed beam up – and up and up – American, CSU and Haselden flags fluttering along its length and glowing against the bright spring sky. Two workers stood atop the fourth floor to guide the final beam into its place as cheers erupted from the crowd below.