New Northridge Science Building Gets Go-Ahead from CSU Board of Trustees
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Feb. 8, 2006) -- A nearly 90,000 gross square foot science building set for completion in January 2009 will provide a modern new home for interdisciplinary scholarship at Cal State Northridge, as well as room for hundreds of new students to pursue science and math studies.
The project received an important go-ahead last week, when the CSU's Board of Trustees approved schematics for the state-of-the-art structure, whose exterior will make a "dramatic architectural statement" in the university's southeast sector.
Construction on the four-story project, to include relocation of the existing stellar observatory, is set to start in January 2007. The current science buildings were erected in the late 1950s.
Funded by Proposition 55, which was state approved by voters in 2004, the $46 million-plus building will be located south of the Botanic Garden.
College of Science and Mathematics Dean Jerry Stinner said the building's innovative design will promote interdisciplinary research between CSUN biology and math faculty, who for the first time will be housed under the same roof.
"We hear a lot today about the importance of interdisciplinary research and that the real advances are occurring at the margins," Stinner said. "The increased interaction between the biology and math faculty will, I predict, result in increased collaborations in both teaching and scholarship."
Interdisciplinary collaboration will be fostered not only through the physical location of work areas, but by providing common gathering areas for students and faculty. "We recognize that, increasingly, science and mathematics are a communal affair," Stinner said.
The structure's 13 "smart" lecture rooms--seating a total of 770 science and math students at a time in 11,580 square feet of space--will help fill a critical need for more room.
"These relatively large classrooms are absolutely necessary to our growth," Stinner said. The College of Science and Mathematics' student population is up more than 20 percent from the 2000-01 academic year enrollment of 2,400 full-time equivalent students.
Tiered seating has been planned for the two larger lecture rooms, accommodating 150 and 120 students. Dubbed "smart" because of their technological advantages, all the rooms provide for Internet hookup and multimedia presentations.
When added to the existing lecture rooms available in the current Science 1 building (Live Oak Hall), which will remain operational to serve the college's instructional and research needs, students and faculty will have the use of some nearly 335,000 gross square feet of space devoted to science and math learning.
A team chaired by Associate Vice President for Academic Resources Spero Bowman worked with the college and the architects--Cannon Design--to contribute recommendations, guidance and ideas for the building.
"We are very pleased with the design of the new building," Bowman said. "Its exterior look will make a dramatic architectural statement."
Academic buildings always are a design challenge, Bowman added. "New buildings are never big enough, nor equipped well enough to meet the requirements of the program or the occupants," he said, because funds seldom stretch far enough to cover all wish lists.
The architects' "creative and cost-effective" approach, he said, resulted in a design that meets the specialized needs issuing from advances in science and from the demanding modern curricula critical to high student learning standards.
"Interestingly, the existing buildings were built about the time the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, and years before the laser was invented," said Bowman, noting that the new science facility will be light years ahead of the old.
Features will include a genetic counseling unit, a spacious biology stockroom, nine instructional wet labs, 18 research wet labs and laboratories for DNA, immunology, electron microscopy and DNA sequencing. Faculty offices, in the structure's northeast corner, will have views of the Botanic Garden.
Space also will be provided for the college's herbarium/insect and vertebrate collections, and research space has been designed for the Center for Cancer & Developmental Biology. A small research laboratory--called the Geology Clean Lab--has been designated for use by the Geology Department.
The use of water-conserving fixtures, natural daylight in labs and offices, reflective roof materials, drought-tolerant landscaping and shade trees will contribute to a high sustainability quotient for the building.
CSUN's College of Science and Mathematics is home to several nationally recognized programs where students gain valuable experience through hands-on work using the latest technologies and equipment. Students also have an opportunity to co-author publications with faculty members, present their research results at national and international meetings, and prepare for teaching careers.