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Proposed science building to create opportunities for students

Graphic by Lauren Campbell

Graphic by Lauren Campbell


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It’s been less than a year since Eastern finished the Patterson Hall renovation project, and Eastern is already setting its sights on starting something big by proposing a plan to build two new science buildings.

“Eastern’s top priority capital request is for design and build funds supporting the proposed Science I Building to house the departments of physics, chemistry and biochemistry,” according to the EWU capital plan and budget request. EWU is also requesting funds for a second science building to “house the biology department,” according to the same request.

Nigel Davies, instructional technician and lecturer for the the geology department at Eastern, said, “There’s certain things that are a little bit unreliable in the [current science building] in terms of air circulation and certain components of our labs that I feel, they’re safe, I’m just nervous if something breaks.”

Structurally, however, the building is fairly safe. “From an earthquake standpoint, yeah, I feel very safe,” Davies said.

Science students at Eastern will have more learning opportunities with the completion of the science buildings. “It allows us space to offer more classes,” according to Judd A. Case, the dean for the College of Science, Health, and Engineering at Eastern. “The benefits to students come with better study space, ones that are quieter,” said Case.

The new buildings are set to be located across from the communications building, which will require the demolition of the Robert Reid Lab.

“For the construction of the science buildings, [Robert Reid Lab] would go away. The building itself would be knocked down,” said Case.

Though the current plans are for Eastern to build two new science buildings, Case acknowledged the project could grow in the coming years.

“There’s a potential of a third building, too. Potentially we’re looking at another engineering program,” said Case. “But that’s still a lot further down the road.”

The project is being proposed soon, and if approved, Eastern will begin the process of designing the new buildings, said Case. “What’s being asked for in this coming legislative session is not only design money, but the beginning of the construction money, so we would take part of the year to do the design process. Drawing up the blueprints, where we want everything in the building from the light switches to major pieces of equipment.”.

Early construction could be started soon too, according to Case.

“There are things that can be done, such as getting rid of Robert Reid school, starting things for the foundation,” said Case. “We would hope that depending on whenever monies get released by the state, that both the design and some aspects of the construction could conceivably start next summer.”

Due to a budget crisis, the project was nearly shelved “about six years ago,” said Case. “[The legislature] didn’t know when they would be able to fund the building,” so the design process was put on hold.

Though the project had to go over a financial hump in the beginning, it is in a much better standing now. The costs will not raise students’ tuition,“It is going to be a state funded building, it doesn’t have anything to do with student tuition at all,” said Case.

As for the current science building, “It’s not planning to go away, it’s going to be repurposed and remodeled,” said Case. “It’s perfectly good for other kinds of departments to come in that are in small, older buildings, and would be able to move into the facility,” he said.

Case said the new science buildings will have a lot to offer.

“I think it’s going to be of tremendous benefit for students to have these kinds of facilities … We’re really hoping that the legislature sees eye to eye with us on this one, and it’ll be a great boom for recruiting students into the sciences,” said Case.

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Proposed science building to create opportunities for students