Biology building funds fall short

by Nathan Whalen

The University remembered its past by opening two time capsules Wednesday, then looked forward to the future with the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building ground-breaking ceremony.
Upon completion, the new building will bring the biology programs under one roof. At present, the departments are scattered between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.
But before anyone moves into the new facility due for completion in 2002, the University has to wait to receive enough money from the state Legislature.
The University has $35 million of the $70 million in state funds needed to finish the building. A portion also went for the demolition of Lyon Labs, Owre and Millard halls to make room for the new biology building.
The school requested funding for the building during the 1997 capital budget request. Legislators split the building’s price tag between the 1998 and 2000 state budget appropriations.
Splitting funds for a single project isn’t a very common practice, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, associate vice president of budget and finance. But he expressed confidence in the legislators’ promise to provide the necessary funding.
The 230,000 square-foot building is designed to be a visible entrance to the Health Sciences area. The building will include room for 70 researchers and additional classroom space.
“I’m a little bummed that I won’t be around to use it,” said Tyler Phillips, a second-year medical student.

Digging up the past
The groundbreaking event began with a look at two time capsules recovered while preparing the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building site. About 175 individuals attended.
University President Mark Yudof was on hand to open the battered, dingy, metal boxes.
“I feel like I’m in surgery here,” Yudof said as he donned heavy-duty gloves and peeled back the lids.
The first capsule dated from 1911 was found in the bottom of Millard Hall when construction crews accidentally hit and damaged it.
The box left by the Medical School at the time contained several yellowed newspapers. Yudof held one up and said with a hint of sarcasm: “Nothing on basketball.”
The container also contained a copy of the Medical School’s master plan designed by University architect Cass Gilbert. The blueprints depict two structures: the institute of anatomy and an open-air amphitheater — neither were built.
Dental journals, academic bulletins, a set of dentures and an anesthetic syringe were recovered from the 1931 time capsule found near the cornerstone of Owre Hall.
When Yudof pulled a clear liquid from the capsule, onlookers thought it best not to speculate on its true biological origins.

Nathan Whalen covers construction and facilities. He welcomes comments at [email protected]