CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0557; fax (319) 335-0558
Ceremonial ground-breaking held for new UI biological sciences building
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Springtime in Iowa - time to start turning
the soil! Today we are planting a seed that will continue to grow into
the next century. In the spring of 2000, at the dawn of a new millennium,
a new biological sciences building will be rooted on this spot."
So said University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman Tuesday afternoon,
March 31, at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new UI biological sciences
building to be located at the corner of Iowa Avenue and Dubuque Street,
just east of the existing complex of buildings that make up the UI Department
of Biological Sciences.
Even as Coleman and other dignitaries were turning over ceremonial spades
of dirt, construction workers have been busy drilling 50-foot holes for
the 227 concrete pilings that will support the four-story building. The
structure will have 57,000 gross square feet of space and will provide
four new classrooms, a high-technology lecture hall, state-of-the-art research
laboratories and a fourth-floor greenhouse. The building is expected to
be completed by the spring of 2000.
In the century coming to an end, the field of biological sciences has
changed profoundly from an emphasis on classifying and dissecting to a
concern for "dynamic life processes, all the way down to the molecular
level," Coleman said.
"Our new building has been designed for the new age of biological
sciences. As we begin to lay the groundwork for a structure that will
bring the biological sciences into a new century, we do so in a spirit
of reverence and respect," the UI president said. "Our imaginations
are fired with excitement about the learning that will go on here - the
discoveries that will be made, the lives that will be changed, the new
possibilities that will be opened for other scientists and students, far
into the future."
Gary Gussin, professor and chair of biological sciences, said the new
building is part of a plan for remodeling the entire biological sciences
complex with the aim of making a good education even better. "With
the modernization of our facilities, especially the new teaching laboratories,
we'll be able to provide the quality of laboratory instruction needed for
our students to go on to advanced careers in research, teaching and the
health science professions," Gussin said.
Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, also praised the
new facility, saying, "In addition to the benefits this project provides
directly for our undergraduate students, it will also be a real boon for
the research capabilities of our faculty and graduate students. It will
help us retain the excellent faculty we have now and will help us recruit
the best faculty and graduate students in the future."
The construction of the new building is the first phase of a two-part
initiative to renew thebiological sciences complex. Also as part of phase
one, workers are currently remodeling the old Biology Annex, which will
house the departmental library. The estimated cost of phase one is $17.7
The second phase of the project will involve the renovation of the Old
Biology Building, which was built in 1902 as the first home of the UI College
of Medicine. Renovation of Old Biology will include complete replacement
of electrical service, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and ventilation
equipment. It will also involve the installation of new windows, remodeling
of classrooms, a well-equipped lecture hall, and the modernization of undergraduate
laboratories. Phase two of the overall project will include work on two
other components of the biological sciences complex, which were built in
the 1960s with federal funds. Those buildings house faculty offices, classrooms,
additional teaching labs, and research labs. That portion of the project
will include fire safety improvements as well as the replacement of inadequate
heating, ventilation and air handling systems.
UI students have been enrolling in biological sciences in record numbers.
More than 600 undergraduates list it as their major, double the number
of about five years ago. The department attracts more than 3,000 students
from seven of the UI's ten colleges. It also offers a wide array of graduate
programs and conducts research across the full spectrum of biological sciences,
from cell, molecular and development biology to neurobiology, physiology,
and population biology.
The new building was designed by Brooks, Borg and Skiles, a Des Moines
architectural firm. McComas Lacina of Iowa City is the general contractor.