Groundbreaking kicks of new science building construction

GVL / Robert Mathews
President T. Haas speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Science Laboratory Building on Allendale campus last Monday.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews President T. Haas speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Science Laboratory Building on Allendale campus last Monday.

Austin Metz

Faculty, alumni, and students came out during an overcast afternoon on April 15 to witness the groundbreaking for Grand Valley State University’s new Allendale Science Laboratory Building.

Lead by GVSU President Thomas J. Haas, the groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginnings of the $55 million construction project, which will officially begin in July.

“We are completing (the library) and we are going to start over again and I have been telling people that come 2015, this university will be different yet again,” Haas said. “I am thrilled to be part of a university that is vibrant, that is stable, that is looking forward for our region and for our state and looking forward to creating an atmosphere, a learning environment for our students to succeed.”

The 151,500 square foot building, which will be located across the Fieldhouse parking lot near parking lot F on Campus Dr., will be designed for LEED silver certification and will provide the university with nine new classrooms, 14 research laboratories, 160 faculty offices, 15 teaching laboratories, and a greenhouse with six separate environmental zones.

“It will definitely be one that is at the core, as many of our academic buildings and programs are, at the core of teaching and learning…,” Haas said. “It’s just remarkable to see the excitement we can build and this building will build excitement for those who want to pursue a degree in the sciences and then take them into post-graduate work as well.”

Haas went on to say that despite the construction over the last 20 years, this is the first time the university has received money from the state to help with the construction and to him, it shows the progress the university is making.

“They (the state) do believe in you, they believe in us, and they believe in the outcomes that we are producing by way of our graduates, by way of the economic vitality we have within the region,” Haas said.
Of the $55 million dollars it will cost, $30 million will come from the state and the remaining $25 million will be raised by the university bonds.

“We’ve been needing this building for quite awhile,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Gayle Davis. “As President Haas was saying, we have been growing and growing in the STEM disciplines, that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and we add Health Sciences to that array. Considering that commitment, really this building can’t open soon enough for us.”

Neil MacDonald, professor in and chair of the biology department said the new building will free up space for the courses in the science discipline.

“We will be in there by the Fall of 2015 and as you heard them talk about, all the new teaching spaces and teaching laboratories and teaching facilities we will have will be tremendously expansive compared to what we have now,” MacDonald said. “Most of our research labs are in old faculty offices… We are going to have new research labs designed as research labs. So that’s really exciting for the faculty.”

Other community leaders also made the groundbreaking event, including Rep. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville), Board of Trustees member David Hooker, Student Senate Vice President of Educational Affairs, Katie Carlson, and members of GVSU’s biology and liberal arts department.

The four story building building, which is expected to be completed and ready for use by fall 2015, will also include a basement and a penthouse to house faculty, graduate assistant and student offices, along with eight conference rooms and eight student study spaces.

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