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Building the Future

Expect to see a dramatically different campus landscape less than a year from now as two major building projects are completed. And the upcoming creation of a new Master Facilities Plan will chart the university’s future course of development.

So says Executive Vice President James E. Blake, who notes that the renovation to Buley Library and the construction of the Academic Laboratory Science Building are on time and progressing well.

“This is really an exciting time to be on campus as you can see the progress being made from week to week,” Blake says. “For those who have been off campus during the summer break, the changes are even more noticeable.”

The renovation work to the older wing of Buley Library should be completed by late November or December, according to Blake. He said that once that is finished, the newer wing of Buley will undergo some final preparation work that should be completed early in 2015. The library will encompass about 245,000 square feet when completed. It will include an atrium and skywalk connecting the two sections of the building.

Among the features of the library will be the creation of an art gallery, as well as space for media collections, special collections, a cyber café, and an “information commons,” an area that will include a computer lab, lounge seating, email stations, a reference help desk and an IT help desk. It is also expected to include three classrooms, two computer teaching labs, a seminar room, a conference room and a tutorial center.

Meanwhile, the new science building is more than halfway completed, according to Blake, and should be completed by the end of next spring. The four-story, 103,608-square-foot facility is designed to be the focal point for the university’s science programs. The two wings of the building will be configured in the shape of an “L,” and located next to Jennings and Morrill halls, which currently house the university’s science departments. Together, the three buildings will form a “science enclave.”

Plans call for a covered skywalk connecting the new science building with Jennings. The new building will host teaching and research labs for physics, earth science, environmental science, molecular biology and chemistry. It is also expected to include a supercomputing lab for research in theoretical physics, bioinformatics and computer science. In addition, plans indicate that both the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies and the ConnSCU Center for Nanotechnology will be located in the building. Other amenities anticipated are an outdoor rock garden, six rooftop telescope stations, classrooms, office space and study/common areas.

Blake notes that a new university Master Facilities Plan – a document that outlines the university’s facility needs for the next 10 years – will be developed during the next six months. A consultant will examine the current and projected enrollment, space allocation, and other factors.

Blake says a Master Facilities Plan Committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Sept. 18. The panel will meet periodically during the next several months and finalize a report by late winter or early spring. The plan would then go to the Board of Regents for review.

“I’m sure there also will be at least one or two town hall-style meetings for the campus community to learn about the plan and offer suggestions and insight,” Blake says.


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