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Laboratory Building Renovation to Provide 'Wow' Factor

March 13, 2014 -- The Main Campus Laboratory (L) Building will soon be undergoing a $15 million renovation. It will require the building to be closed for four terms, but it will be worth the wait.
Laboratory Building Renovation to Provide 'Wow' Factor

Architectural Rendering of Renovated L Building

 

“Once the renovation is complete, it will have state-of-the-art labs and classrooms,” said Lou Castillo, Physical Plant’s Director of Construction Services. “You will know it’s a science building by entering it or even just driving by.”

L Building will be vacated the first week of April to give workers time to prepare for demolition. All classes in the building for the current spring term were scheduled for 12 weeks instead of 16 to allow construction work to begin next month.

Philip Carman, associate dean of the School of Math, Science & Engineering, said that closing the building 16 months requires laboratories to be relocated, some permanently, to other locations. Biology, geology, anatomy, physiology, microbiology and geography labs will be moved to temporary facilities on Main Campus. CNM chemistry, physics and astronomy labs will be relocated to other campuses starting with the summer term.

The decision to renovate the 27-year-old building was not a difficult one to make, Castillo noted. “It has a lot of mechanical problems. We realized early on that if we were going to take care of mechanical issues, we might as well renovate the whole building,” he said.

After renovation, the building will remain two stories but have a different appearance. It will have the modern look and feel of the nearby JS Building and the Student Resources Center. Windows currently set out five feet will be filled in with laboratory and classroom space, automatically adding 3,000 square feet. Also, the south end of the building will be expanded 3,000 square feet and the north end expanded 4,000, increasing the building size from 33,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet.

The renovation project will also incorporate many eco-friendly and energy-efficiency features designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The existing building lacks places for students to congregate and study. Currently they wait for classes in the halls, sitting in chairs -- if they can find them. The renovated building will have two “agility” spaces where students can meet, study and collaborate.

The agility spaces will be decorated with scientific displays and art work, while the outside will be made of glass applied with silkscreen patterns. The images will depict science topics

The second-floor entrance will be relocated so that students can enter near the grassy area north of the Student Resources Center. The elevator will be located there, as well.

As an extra learning component, an outside wall will sport a solar panel for hot water production. Students will be able to see how well the panel is functioning through a building blackboard.

SMPC Architects are the architects for the project.

“Students will find the renovated L Building a much better place for learning,” Carman said. “It will have additional biology and chemistry labs. All the labs will be updated with the latest technology. The whole building will have a ‘wow’ factor.”