Ground Broken On New Science Building

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.
Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

The former parking lot at the corner of Route 32 and Plattekill Avenue began its journey to become the new science building with speeches from important officials and a ceremonial ground breaking, on Friday, Sept. 19.

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, New York State Sen. John Bonacic and Margie DeBolt, partner at Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, all gave short speeches at the event. Christian also read a letter from New York State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who could not make it.

The speakers then got together with nine others to pierce the dirt and mark the official ground breaking of the two-year and $48 million project.

The two-story building will be steel framed and 77,000 square-feet. It will house the geology, geography, physics and astronomy, computer science and mathematics departments.

“This new science building represents a concrete example of what we’ve achieved through vision, advocacy, collaboration and perseverance,” Christian said.

Courses in this building will focus on the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to SUNY’s website, the Empire STEM learning network provides students with the critical thinking skills they will need to be successful in the workforce.

In his speech, Bonacic underscored the states need for “intellectual capital, which grows through the core disciplines of the STEM program.”

Zimpher said this building is another way the SUNY system is encouraging students to enroll in STEM and STEAM — the additional ‘A’ representing the inclusion of the arts. It falls in line with other projects such as the Master Teacher program, STEM driven high school courses and STEM scholarships. SUNY is “New York’s economic engine,” and this building will help provide the state with skilled workers to fill the jobs.

According to Christian, planning for this building began many years ago, with the goal of improving the university’s space-to-student ratio. The building will support the increase in students enrolling in STEM courses, a group which has doubled in size in the past five years.

Christian added that through a Project Labor Agreement, all construction jobs will be unionized.

Expected to open in early 2017, the building will have two wings— one for “dry” laboratories and the other for physical science research, according to DeBolt. The dry laboratories will be used for work in physics, astronomy and mathematics and will use less energy than the science labs. In keeping with the goal of having an energy efficient building, DeBolt said.

As per the SUNY New Paltz official statement, the building will also have lecture halls, and collaborative study areas. It will be designed to qualify for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

In his letter, Cahill said “this project is the latest example of our commitment to keep [SUNY] New Paltz a technologically advanced and attractive campus.”