The latest phase of the Integrated Science and Engineering Complex is nearing completion, providing students and faculty with impressive and innovative new spaces when the first day of classes for the winter term begins Monday, Jan. 6.
The $100 million project, the most ambitious and largest in the school’s history, is transforming the former Science and Engineering Center. Built during the late 1960s and dedicated in 1971, the center has been instrumental in educating generations of students in biology, chemistry, physics and astronomy, and computer, electrical and mechanical engineering.
The College broke ground on the complex in May 2017. When completed by early summer, the 142,000-square-foot space will give Union one of the finest undergraduate science and engineering facilities in the country.
HAPPENING NOW: As many as 150 people have been working double and triple shifts to complete phase 3 of the project, which included the renovation and addition to three sections of the existing S&E center (towers 1, 2 and 3). Faculty and staff that had been temporarily using two other sections (towers 4 and 5) are moving into their new labs and offices this month. This includes the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering (ECBE).
In addition, workers are completing punch list items, especially in the corridors and public spaces.
Two areas still under construction that should be completed by the start of the winter term include triangular stairs at the north end of tower 3, and the connector to Butterfield and Steinmetz halls. A small section of tower 3 that requires extensive utility work will be finished in May.
WHAT’S NEXT: Phase 4 will begin in the early part of the winter term. It includes the removal of hazardous materials and the demolition of the two remaining sections of the existing S &E center (towers 4 and 5). This space will be replaced by an outdoor quad. This phase will wrap up by summer.
PREVIOUSLY: Phases 1 and 2 of the project included site work and the addition of Ainlay Hall, which opened in fall 2018. A key feature of the striking new building is the concept of science and engineering on display. Designed to showcase the extensive labs and high-level scientific instrumentation not typically found at a liberal arts college, the massive glass panels give students and visitors a clear view of the research taking place.
As the first liberal arts college to offer engineering in 1845, Union holds a distinctive place in higher education.
The new complex will revolutionize teaching, learning and research, while connecting people and programs across engineering, science and liberal arts.
“Not only is this the largest project in our history, it’s also the most complex,” said Loren Rucinski, director of Facilities and Planning. “The project has been challenging because of the work being so close to existing occupied buildings. The faculty had to endure less than ideal conditions while trying to do their work; however, in the end the sacrifices will be worth it. Now that phase 3 is nearly complete, if you stand in the atrium and look out, you can see the architects’ vision - looking into all of the teaching spaces as our educational mission is clearly on display.”