President Oliver announced the final stages of the Sven Froiland Science Project this week. The new, state-of-the-art addition to the Augustana sciences will be located in a cupboard under the stairs leading to the basement of the current Gilbert Science Center (GSC).
“The future of science at Augustana began 150 years ago,” Oliver said. “We want to make sure we’re preserving our history. We’re excited to see what our students can accomplish in this new facility, while continuing to do most of their work in the existing historic building.”
The final plans for the new facility came about after more than a year of working with architects and donors. Though the initial announcement last year proposed a $40 million project, including both a new facility and renovations to the GSC, the project was downsized to its current state after the planning committee realized how expensive buildings are.
“As it turns out, buildings are really expensive,” Oliver said. “And after fundraising for so long, you start to get pretty worn out. I’m really happy with how far we’ve come, though, and it’s not unusual for budget goals to change once you start working on a project.”
Faculty members in the GSC are excited about the final plan, according to Karen Younger, chair of the natural science division.
“It’s nice to finally have a plan in place,” Younger said. “It’s maybe not as big of a project as we hoped for, but, hey, at least now we won’t have to worry about where we’ll hold classes during construction.”
The College plans to break ground on the project as soon as all of the old boxes and spider webs are removed from the cupboard, which should be sometime before the spring of 2015, according to Oliver.
“Our goal is to have students working in the room by 2016,” Younger said.
Even students who are graduating before the new facility is built are excited for the change
“After hearing about updated science facilities since before I came to Augustana as a freshman, I’m really looking forward to seeing what new equipment we’ll get in the cupboard,” junior biochemistry major Ethan Pauley said.
While the specific details of the cupboard layout have not been released, many speculate that the new facilities will be used primarily as a space in which to stage photos for billboards.
“I’m really looking forward to pretending to do work in the cupboard so that I can get my face on a billboard next to a statistic about Augustana’s job-placement rate,” junior chemistry major Jade Hovet said. “It’ll be fun to see a glimpse of what chemistry could be like in an up-to-date lab.”
According to Oliver, the science program will likely continue to expand in the future.
“It’s really important to us as a college that we continue to innovate,” Oliver said. “I mean, even the thought of making a cupboard into a state-of-the-art lab facility is pretty innovative if you ask me.”
Though it’s likely that no classes will actually be held in the new facility, the renovated cupboard reportedly will “look really cool,” according to the architects.
“We made this fun graphic of what the facility could potentially look like,” the architect said. “We even generated a rendition of what it would look like with some students in it, but probably no more than two people will ever fit in that little cupboard at one time.”