By Whitney Dreier
Four wide-eyed students entered the building through a makeshift plywood door on the northeast corner of the construction site. Their sneakers left footprints on the dusty floor as they moved through the halls. Pipes and vents ran, exposed, along the ceiling above them, and heavy plastic sheets rustled in the window frames.
Writing scrawled across the newly hung drywall, and the occasional Marlboro carton littered the ground. But, no, this wasn’t a case of breaking and entering, of trespassing college students up to no good. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Accompanied by Dr. Chris Babayco, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, and Bob Hutton, Executive Director of Administrative Services, the students – three of them members of the Science Living Learning Community – were among the first to see the inside of the new science building. Recently named the Gerald T. and Bonnie M. Brouder Science Center, the 53,000 square-foot limestone and brick masterpiece is scheduled to open in August 2013.
Hutton delivered the grand tour of the $14 million facility, from the advanced biology, anatomy, physical science, forensic science and nursing laboratories and classrooms on the lowest level all the way up to the mechanical area on the third floor. The second story features biology and chemistry laboratory spaces, a lecture hall, faculty offices and two large general classrooms. “The building kind of evolved,” Hutton explained. “The building’s doubled in size since we first planned it; good thing we’re building now because if we’d waited, it probably would have doubled again!”
Upon reaching the crime scene simulation area, junior forensic science major Jillian Wilson could hardly contain herself. “Boom!” she exclaimed, delivering a fist bump to one of her friends. “This is my place! I’m totally nerding out right now.”
Freshman Samantha Macht agreed. “The crime lab is fantastic,” she said. “We don’t have anything like that right now.”
But although the electricity is on and heat is pumping through the ground floor, much is left to be done – walls must be painted, windows installed, cabinetry fitted, and more. Hospital beds will fill the nursing skills lab, and 126 theater seats will be arranged in the high-tech lecture hall.
Babayco, who’s been involved in construction from the beginning, turned to Hutton. “You’re spoiling us,” he told his colleague. “But it’s torture – we’ve seen the inside of it and now we have to wait!”
The Living Learning students are doing their best to be patient. The fall semester brings the promise of new opportunities, challenges and experiments. They’re giddy with anticipation. “When this thing is done,” Macht said, “we’re going to live here.”
Click here to go on a virtual tour of the science building with Dr. Chris Babayco.