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New biology building and other projects approved by regents

By Claire Bryan, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 20, 2014

At their meeting on Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents unanimously voted to commence a host of construction projects with projected costs of more than $510 million.

The projects span across campus, including the construction of a new 300,000-square-foot Biological Science Building and renovations of the older sections of the Ross School of Business, West Quad Residence Hall and the historic President’s House.

Regents approve construction of a new Biological Science Building

The construction of the Biological Sciences Building — the project that will bring about the biggest change to the landscape of Central Campus — will cost an estimated $261 million. Funding will come from LSA and Office of the Provost resources.

The BSB will be built adjacent to the Life Sciences Institute, on the site of the historic North Hall and the Museums Annex, both of which will be demolished.

The new facility will include new research laboratories, offices, classrooms and vivarium services, and will adopt portions of the four museum collections currently housed in the Ruthven Museums Building. Additionally, the new BSB will connect to the Life Sciences Institute, which Ecology Prof. Deborah Goldberg, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, said would facilitate the shipping and receiving of lab supplies.

After construction is completed, the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will be transferred into the new space. Both units are currently located in the Edward Henry Kraus Natural Science Building, which was built in 1915.

Goldberg said the Kraus building is no longer capable of supporting contemporary research and the large number of researchers within the departments.

“It is pretty hard to do modern science in a building that is close to a hundred years old,” Goldberg said.

She cited the inadequacy of the electrical systems and air handling systems and mentioned how the lack of space is inconvenient for equipment and hinders students’ ability to interact and work with each other.

LSA junior Madeline Berschback said the new building will provide a common space for biology majors to collaborate.

“The most exciting part is that all the biology classes will be in the same place and we won’t have to be running from building to building,” she said. “I think the best part of this is it will create a really nice sense of community.”

Architecture firm SmithGroupJJR — a firm used frequently by the University — has been chosen to design the project.

The University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, which had occupied North Hall for more than half a century, has been relocated to the Chemistry Building. Once construction is complete, the ROTC will move to the current Kinesiology Building, and the School of Kinesiology will be relocated to the Kraus Building.

Plans for the demolition of North Hall and the Museums Annex will be formally proposed later this year as part of the five-year plan to complete the project.

Both biology departments are expected to be fully relocated to the new facility by 2019.

Ross additions, renovations approved

Following the receipt of a $200 million donation from real estate mogul and University alum Stephen Ross in September, the regents moved ahead with putting the money to use.

Entirely funded by gift funds, including $100 million from the Ross donation, the project will renovate the older portions of the Business School.