When Jan Nerger looks at plans for the new chemistry research and biology buildings at Colorado State University, she can’t help but smile.
“These new facilities will be a game-changer for us,” said Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “They not only will raise our profile in the science community, they will become a destination on our campus – part of a new science mall. I can’t tell you how excited am I about these projects.”
CSU hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the building site east of the Anatomy/Zoology Building between Pitkin and Lake streets. The new buildings celebrate a new era for the college and two of CSU’s most prominent science-related majors.
Badly needed space
Biology is CSU’s largest major, with more than 1,400 students – including 400 in zoology – and is a highly regarded program. Chemistry is one of the University’s top-rated programs in both teaching and research.
The biology building is the larger of the projects and will add more than 152,000 square feet of classroom, research and office space to a program that has been bursting at the seams for several years. The entire program will move from its current location in the Anatomy/Zoology Building.
“This building will allow the opportunity to expand into the next era of the life sciences,” said Michael Antolin, chair of the Department of Biology. “This is a building for the next 30 years, at least. CSU is a top-notch life sciences university and, as the most general life sciences program, biology helps students find their niche in this field. This building will be a tremendous asset for the department, the college and the university.”
Students voted to provide significant funding for the construction of the biology building. Fittingly, it is designed as a student-focused environment that encourages students and meet to work with classmates and/or faculty.
“Right now we have very limited space for student interaction,” Antolin said. “The new building will have ‘idea spaces’ – places where students can meet with friends and classmates. We’ve designed it to become a campus destination.”
The chemistry research building will be 61,000 square feet, with most of it dedicated to synthetic chemistry research. Chuck Henry, chair of the Department of Chemistry, said the badly needed space will allow CSU to expand research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students in a collaborative environment.
“The design is different – an open plan – from anything done before,” he said. “It will be a flowing set of labs as opposed to the traditional isolated lab approach. This will definitely enhance our research and train our students how to work in a collaborative setting.”
Although state funds will pay for much of the new chemistry research building, CSU will actively fundraise for both buildings, as well as for needed renovations within the existing chemistry building.
Construction has begun on the biology building, while work on the chemistry research building begins later this year. Both will be completed in time for fall 2017.
When the new buildings are in place, they will be the gateway to the new science mall in the south-central part of campus. The new buildings exemplify the College of Natural Sciences’ theme: “Discovery Begins Here.”
“These projects will change the way we look at research and academic spaces at CSU,” Nerger said. “We’ll be able to attract exceptional students and faculty from around the country. I really see these buildings as a showcase for CSU.”
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