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Ohio State celebrates groundbreaking of $126M building

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

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The Ohio State Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and researchers from the Department of Chemistry will have a new home in a few years, and OSU took the first step in construction this week.

Students, faculty, and alumni celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the soon-to-be constructed Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry Building Monday afternoon at the dig site. The facility will be located at the southeast corner of the Physics Research Atrium space between 19th Avenue and Woodruff Avenue.

With a $126 million project budget, CBEC is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

The 235,000-square-foot building will allow the chemical engineering and chemistry departments to work closely. The newly developed collaboration between both programs was a major theme at the ceremony.

“These departments have traditionally been separated in academia, but there is very much to gain from closer proximity and increased collaboration,” said Joseph Steinmetz, executive dean and vice provost of the College of Arts and Sciences. “So we are very much looking forward to the construction of this building.”

President E. Gordon Gee said this will create a great facility and collaboration.

“Think about this, think about the magnificence when two departments and programs at masses begin together,” Gee said. “They will be better than the sum of their parts.”

CBEC will accommodate 42 faculty members and their teams while giving them laboratory space with state-of-the-art dimensions and an environmental atmosphere good for research.

The facility will include a four-story laboratory building, named after Joseph Koffolt, the chair for the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from 1948 to 1968, and a six-story office tower. The two buildings will be connected by bridges on the second, third and fourth floors.

Both departments are moving from buildings they had been housed in for decades. The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is moving from Koffolt Laboratories, built in 1960, and the Department of Chemistry is leaving Evans Lab, built in 1967. CBEC is replacing four buildings that had a $22 million deferred maintenance price tag.

 David Williams, dean and presidential professor of the College of Engineering, said he hopes CBEC will allow the college to rise in national rankings.

“The College of Engineering is proud that it ranks in the top 20 of all the national public colleges of engineering. With this building, we are intent on rising even higher,” he said.

Some students are also looking forward to the benefits of a new facility.

Brian Belcik, a second-year graduate student in chemical engineering, said the new building will allow him to work smoothly in his program.

“Newer facilities is always good,” he said. “We use a lot of equipment in the chemistry building anyway, so it will be nice to have them be closer. We can use their (equipment) and they can use ours.”

CBEC will have an exterior that uses solar orientation with shades that will optimize sunlight while maximizing views. The building will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver certification. According to the U.S. Green Building Council website a LEED certification “provides independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible, profitable, and a healthy place to live and work.”

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