New science building proves worth the wait

by Kamariea Forcier

After months of delays, several University departments from the health sciences moved into their new offices Thursday inside the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building.
Administrators announced in October that faculty and staff members could move into the new building by December. Several days later, however, administrators called off the move, citing problems with the ventilation system and other issues.
Rescheduled to move into the new building in March, faculty members were later informed that the problems were not entirely solved, and they could not relocate until June.
Jo Anne Jackson, senior vice president for Finance and Operations, said the delay wasn’t surprising, “given the fact that it’s a high-tech building that had to be done.”
The building, which cost the University $62.7 million, was designed as a state-of-the-art facility where several science departments could perform research, exchange ideas and collaborate on various projects.
Technological features inside the building include some rooms that are pressurized, which creates a vacuum that keeps equipment such as microscopes clean by blowing dirt and dust out of the room.
But the University had a difficult time getting the system to operate, according to memos from the Building Code Division. Other problems included leaking roofs and fire code violations.
“The problems that we faced were myriad because of the advanced design of the building,” David Hamilton, a professor of cell biology and neuroanatomy, said. “It took a long time to get it all sorted out after it was all installed.”
Hamilton, the person responsible for raising much of the money needed to finance the building, said his department will move into the new facility June 13.
“I may not sound so, because I’m so tired, but I am ecstatic,” he said. “(The space) I have now is just abysmal, and what I’ll be moving into is absolutely spectacular.”
While health and safety concerns have been resolved, Hamilton said the building needs adjustments to make it more comfortable.
“It’s going to be livable, but it might be warmer than we want it,” he said.
Other departments moving into the building include cellular and developmental neuroscience, neurobehavioral studies, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, biomedical engineering and structural biology.
Hamilton said he’s thankful to Facilities Management, who “worked their heads off. They worked morning, noon and night to get this done for us.”