Wold Science Center nears completion

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By Erin Delman

The construction of the Peter Irving Wold Center for Science and Engineering will end by mid-December of this year, indicating an on-time opening of the new academic building. The work began during the Fall Term of 2009 due in large part to a large contribution from John Wold ‘38 and his wife, Jane Wold.

The three-story, 35,000 square-foot research and education facility is meant to serve as an interdisciplinary science center. The programs that will be located in the building include Biochemistry, Environmental Science and Engineering, Energy Engineering (including a roof-top outdoor energy lab), an advanced computation lab, the Aerogel lab, which is a joint venture between Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry, and the Phasor Lab, which is an acoustics lab that is a joint venture between the Electrical Engineering and Music departments.

Although the building mainly features interdisciplinary research and programs, the entire campus community will have access to other exciting features. There is a 24-7 computer lab that is available to all students, as well as general purpose electronic classrooms and ample study space in and around the central atrium. A coffee kiosk and seating area will be installed to encourage faculty-student interaction. Along with the glass atrium, the building plans account for interactive spaces to display student research and projects.

Another characteristic that sets apart the new academic building is the commitment to sustainability during the construction process. By incorporating sustainable approaches to the construction of the site, the Wold Center will achieve LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Gold Status from the U.S. Green Building Council. Solar and geothermal energy alternatives, as well as water savings, sustainable materials selection, indoor environmental quality, and site development all contributed to the receipt of the Gold Status.

The building was designed to fit into the Ramée plan of campus, and thus the exterior appears very traditional, despite the modernity of the interior. “The inside will be thoroughly current, and most importantly, flexible in order to stay current into the future,” Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies and Special Programs Douglass Klein said. “It will help integrate engineering and science more closely with the rest of the campus by creating a ‘front door’ to the whole Science and Engineering complex, and an attractive gathering place.”

As a matter of fact, the building can be accessed through the main entrance, all four levels of the Science and Engineering building, and the first level of the Olin Center.

Although the building construction will end in mid-December, much of the Winter Term will be dedicated to moving into the labs and offices, as well as commissioning all of the buildings’ systems. It will be dedicated at ReUnion in May 2011, and there will be a year-long series of events marking the opening, including poster sessions and acknowledgement of each lab availability.

The final event will be the sealing of the 50- and 100-year time capsules by the class of 2012. The time capsule will be opened in 2062, at the 50-year reunion, and the class of 2062 will be invited to re-fill the capsule for their 50-year reunion in 2112. The 100-year capsule will be opened in 2112 as well.

The building, originally slated to open in Spring 2011, is right on schedule. Students will have access to the new facility in early Spring Term.

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