After nearly three years of construction, part of Tennessee Tech’s science building will open for students and faculty in time for classes later this month.
The new facility will bring together different sciences like chemistry, microbiology, and botany under one roof. Department of Chemistry Chairman Jeff Boles said there is a lot to be excited about.
“There’s additional laboratories for climate science, environmental chemistry, and physics that will also be in the new science building,” Boles said. “It really is an interdisciplinary science building, it’s not just a chemistry building.”
Boles said the design of the building is unique when it comes to research space. Two options laid ahead: an open lab model where several professors share the same space, or small enclosed spaces. He said Tech wasn’t interested in either, so they created a one of a kind hybrid model called a ‘research block’ that combines private laboratories into a shared space.
“Each one of these research blocks has four faculty laboratories that open into a shared space in the middle,” Boles said. “On each end there’s student office space, so a student could literally get up from their desk, they can walk through the private laboratory, and then continuing on through that lab they can walk into the shared space.”
The shared space is for collaborative work, shared equipment, and special projects. Boles said the San Diego firm that aided in the floor plan design said this was a unique idea.
Between parallel departments are two separate rooms with a stockroom in between. Each room, known as ‘the hood,’ is lined with fume hoods; the center of the room, known as ‘the pit,’ is a shared space holding instrumentation.
Most of the building has glass separating classrooms, laboratories, and the outside. Boles said this is a prime example of “science on display.”
“Really you can kind of tell that something’s different just by looking at the new science building,” Boles said. “In addition to retaining the Georgian architecture of the campus, this building was design with an eye to the future, and you see a lot of glass unlike most of the other buildings on campus.”
There are three floors and a basement at the South End of the facility. A cafe is located on the first floor, and multiple studying areas throughout the building. Boles said there are open areas for student activities and free tutoring.
The auditorium building is available for full use this semester. It includes two large auditoriums equipped with a laboratory for video productions and small rooms for club meetings. The entire building should be accessible by late October.
The new science building is 160,000 square feet with over 90,000 square feet of usable space.