Eastern Michigan University’s Science Complex addition, unveiled Dec. 16, is ready for use this semester.
The new addition is open for the start of winter 2011 classes while renovation work takes place on the existing Mark Jefferson science building. The basement, as well as the first and second floor, is undergoing renovations.
According to Scott Storrar, the director of facilities planning and construction and Sean Braden, manager of facilities planning and design, the total project budget including the renovation is $90 million. Early site work began in Dec. 2008.
The complex, which is being dubbed the “largest single construction project in the history of Eastern Michigan University,” has a number of features.
One of the most interesting aspects of the project is the spherical planetarium classroom that is viewable five floors above an atrium area. The classroom is supported by beams and gives the appearance of being suspended above the atrium. At night, the exterior of the planetarium will be lit and it can be seen from a distance. Other features include a suspended walking bridge leading from the Oakwood lot and an atrium walk through.
Storrar and Braden said the new addition is approximately 84,318 gross square feet. Besides the planetarium, the addition includes new features such as laboratories, classrooms and a student gathering space. Classrooms and laboratories have been outfitted with new technology such as voice over IP phone capabilities. The addition also has a green roof and chilled beam heating and cooling technology.
The building was designed to meet LEED, leadership in energy and environment design, Silver certification. LEED is a green building certification system.
The addition will house the biology, chemistry, geography and geology, physics and astronomy and psychology departments.
Braden and Storrar said the majority of professors have moved into their new spaces, but it is a multi phase project that will include several more moves before the final completion.
“With this being a multi-phased project, we have salvaged a significant quantity of furniture for reuse in both the Science Complex and Pray-Harrold projects and potential redistribution throughout campus once the projects are complete,” he said.
Storrar and Braden said they are excited about the completion of the addition and they are looking forward to a successful process toward the completion of the renovation of Mark Jefferson.
The addition process went along rather smoothly and the renovations are going well according to Storrar.
“Projects of this size and complexity evolve throughout the design and construction process with all of the professionals working together as a team to resolve these challenges,” he said. “We are currently on schedule and within budget.”
According to Braden and Storrar the architectural firm of Lord, Aeck and Sargeant, of Ann Arbor, designed the complex and Christman Company is the contractor. DMJM Management of Detroit is the program manager.
President Susan Martin said during the entire time of construction, one incident occurred.
“There was one incident of a break-in,” she said. “It was very disheartening.”
Despite the break-in, Martin said she is elated about how things turned out.
“I’m delighted so far,” Martin said. “…Long overdue. It’s an exciting process.”
Martin said she’s received mostly praises and “very positive” reactions from faculty members about the complex.
“They’ve been patient,” she said. “Both faculty and our students have been very gracious.”
Geoff Larcom, executive director of media relations, said the university sees this as something that is central in aiding to the welfare of the state of Michigan.
“We need more science teachers,” he said. “This building will help facilitate that.”
Chelsea Riley had doubts about the complex initially, but after doing research she said it was needed.
“So far, I’ve only had two classes in Mark Jefferson,” she said. “My major doesn’t really require me to be in there so I never really thought about how old the labs were in there until one of my friends complained about it. It’s good students will have access to state of the art things now. That’s what our money should be used for.”