Sunday, August 15, 2010

Science Building on Google Earth

Progress continues quickly on massive renovations to the Marshall Conant Science Building, where I am spending my career as a geography educator. The LEED-certified renovation is by far the largest academic construction project currently underway in the eastern United States.

In a multi-phase expansion and renovation, the section where I work (facing Park Avenue) will eventually be demolished, so that the giant new wing will be visible from the street. Although most of us will end up with smaller offices, we will have more and better teaching space, with labs that are up to current ventilation codes. The larger building will allow all the current science departments to be joined by math and computer science, along with the dean of our new School of Science & Mathematics. (Yes, I was on the committee that proposed a School of S&M and we did consider other names.)

My office will be in a relatively small "tab" extending off the north-center of the building; progress on this section is not yet as extensive as on the larger wing. The destruction of the Park Street wing was necessitated by the need to provide greater space between floors (our 1964 construction is out of code for laboratory space, and could not be brought into code). The perpendicular wing will be kept for office and general (non-lab) use, and will be thoroughly renovated. The result of the new footprint will be a nice, green space between the bulk of the building and Park Street, with the preservation of the beautiful botanical gardens to the immediate west. In fact, garden plantings will continue right into the main atrium of the building (which is at the west-most end of the new wing). As with most artist's renderings, however, the image above does exaggerate the surrounding green space -- for example putting a forest in the location of the Kelly Gymnasium.

Plans call for a cafe to be located adjacent to the atrium, at the apex of the final building configuration. My students and I have proposed a model for that cafe that is still under consideration. It is probably too late for some of the proposed elements to be included by the building's opening day in fall 2012, but we are hopeful that university officials will approve the Benjamin Linder Cafe as a unique teaching cafe in this innovative new building.

Click the "larger map" link below the satellite image to explore the building and its surroundings.

View Larger Map

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