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Cutting-edge practical science in store for new BVU Center

Monday, November 17, 2003

Targeted for completion in July

As students, faculty, and staff mill past the construction of the new Estelle Siebens Science Center, they can't help but be blinded by the light reflecting off the squeaky-clean rotunda windows.

However, the blindness is nothing compared with the butterflies in their stomachs caused by the excitement for the opening of the new facility in the fall of 2004.

Construction on the $26 million, 70,000-square-foot facility is proceeding on schedule. The two-story brick and glass structure will feature 24 offices, 18 laboratories, three research areas, seven classrooms and a science avenue.

The building will also house an expanded optic labs for laser research, a pathogens lab, an electron microscope facility, a physiology/exercise science lab, a robotics lab, math technology labs and new experimental courses in weather, climate, sound, supercomputers, complex simulations and oceanography. The facility will further facilitate ongoing Water Quality, Tissue Culture, Prairie Restoration, and "Science After School" projects.

Members of the BVU community are looking forward to the unique layout and amenities of the facility.

"The thing I'm looking forward to the most is the open feeling," Joe Traylor, professor of physics and computer science, said. "Even the hallways will encourage learning...because the seating area is so close to faculty offices it should increase dialogue."

"I feel that one of the neatest features will be the first floor entrance and hall, which will be called Science Avenue and Science on display," Mike Elston, project manager, said. "It starts with the big glassed in entrance, and continues down the main hall with lots of display space and lots of natural light coming from skylights that are exposed down to the first floor."

"I'm most excited about the new chemistry labs," Tim Ehler,

assistant professor of chemistry, said. "Right now we have six small fume hoods, but the new labs will have 12 double fume hoods, so it won't be a problem with students having to wait."

At groundbreaking ceremonies on Oct. 1, 2002, BVU President Fred Moore announced that a foundation established by the late Dr. Harold Walter Siebens was the source of the previously anonymous $13 million challenge pledge. Moore revealed that the new facility would be named the Estelle Siebens Science Center in honor of Dr. Siebens' widow. Mrs. Estelle Siebens was the University's special guest at the groundbreaking ceremony, as hundreds of BVU students, faculty, staff and other guests expressed their appreciation to the more than 450 donors who joined in matching the foundation's $13 million challenge.

Of the $26 million that went into the building, $18 million is for building construction and furnishings, and the remaining $8 million is for the operating endowment. The target date for construction to be completed is during July 2004, which leaves plenty of time for science faculty and staff to move over to the new facility.

Plans are already underway for the dedication of the new building in the fall. The dedication will be a gala event open to campus and community, which will celebrate the rich heritage of science on the BVU campus and herald an era of even greater discovery, engineering, invention and service.

The present Estelle Siebens Science Center, which was built in 1969 and is the current home for the biology, chemistry, math, computer science, and physics departments, will be remodeled. Plans are being formulated for the art department, along with social sciences faculty, to move into that facility.

- Article courtesy Buena Vista University

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