Equipped with shovels and hard hats, politicians and administrators, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, took part in a ground-breaking ceremony at the University of Massachusetts on Friday for the new $92.7 million Integrated Science Building.
Also in attendance with Kennedy were UMass President Jack Wilson, Chancellor John Lombardi, Congressmen John Olver and Richard Neal and Ellen Story, the state representative for the towns of Amherst and Granby, Mass.
Kennedy highlighted the overall impact the new construction would have on the region. The research done in the new building would attract technology companies from eastern Massachusetts, according to Kennedy. Kennedy called the building a "strategic investment" designed to encourage "companies to look down the [Mass] Pike."
The new building is critical to the economic future of the state, allowing the region to "tap into the extraordinary research revolution," said Kennedy.
Olver added that the building would "enhance the workforce in the state and the region."
The Integrated Science Building, designed to facilitate the collaboration between chemical, physical and life sciences, will become, "the cornerstone of science education on campus," according to Lombardi.
Complete with a 300-seat auditorium, 85-seat classroom, computer resource center, science labs and an entire floor dedicated to research, the Integrated Science Building "demonstrates the University's commitment to research and teaching," according to Olver.
Dr. John Armstrong, a member of the UMass Board of Trustees, added that for the campus, "the building will improve the work and study conditions."
The site of the building, located on Stockbridge Road where the Marshall Annex once was, was selected to allow for future expansion of the structure. Overall, the building is expected to provide 155,000 square feet of space, while allowing for 40,000 square feet of existing teaching space on campus to be freed up.
Construction of the building, according to the UMass Campus Planning Web site, is expected to finish in the fall of 2008.
The building is part of a $2.1 billion project over five years for UMass. Twenty-two percent of the funds for the project will come from the state, while the other 78 percent will come from UMass. The University will collect its portion of the funds from grants, fees, private companies and donations, according to Lombardi.
"This building will transform the way we teach science," said Dr. George Langford, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, in his remarks to the audience during the ceremony. According to Langford, the class of 2010 will be the first class to use the building.
Robert Mahoney, UMass alumnus and trustee, was credited for beginning the project with a contribution of $2 million in 2003, along with his brother Richard, a fellow UMass alumnus. Mahoney said the project was "11 years in the making."
Planning for the building began in 1995 between Mahoney and a few members of the UMass faculty to bring together the Biology and Chemistry Departments for mutual cooperation and research. In 1995, "these departments did not know each other," Mahoney said.
"Aspiring scientists flock to universities," Neal said, also citing the economic strength the building would bring to Western Massachusetts, as well as its advantages for the University. Bay State Medical Center, another major contributor of funds to the project, is expected to continue its partnership with UMass with the research done in the Integrated Science Building. According to Neal, BSMC and UMass are the top two employers in Western Massachusetts.
Armstrong concluded by saying there is "no more rewarding cause that we could be engaged in than to create better opportunities for the commonwealth."
(C) 2006 Massachusetts Daily Collegian via U-WIRE