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Stalled SIUE Science Building Complex resumes for now

If all goes well, work will wrap in 16 months

IBJ Staff Report

p21 science    EDWARDSVILLE — The on again/off again renovation of the older portion of the science complex at SIUE is back on, and officials hope the project remains that way until it’s completed.
    Those involved with the project say it’s about two years behind its original schedule. There could still be another delay at the end of the current fiscal year if funds to complete the project aren’t re-appropriated into the state budget that begins July 1. Legislators continue to work on solutions.
    The renovation was originally funded through a state capital bill in Fiscal Year 2010 as part of the overall Science Complex funding that included the new Science Building, completed in 2013. The renovation started after the new building was finished, but when the state didn’t approve an FY17 budget by June 30, 2016, the state had to shut down the project.
    In what was commonly called Stop Gap Bill No. 2 last fall, the state reappropriated the remaining funds for the project, so it could restart.
    Renovation of the Science Lab Building Complex is part of a more than $300 million construction and infrastructure improvement plan that began in 2006.
    The renovation on the original Science Building Complex officially resumed Nov. 3, and the project is expected to be completed in approximately 16 months.
    The remodeled Science Lab buildings will contain the offices and workspaces of the Department of Physics, the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Research, Education and Outreach Center, according to Bill Retzlaff, PhD, and College of Arts and Sciences associate dean.
    “In addition, the teaching laboratories, teaching classrooms, research laboratories, and supporting spaces for these three units will be in the buildings,” Retzlaff said. “Further, two classrooms will be constructed in the A-Building and assigned to the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, respectively.”
    “The project will also include two renovated and expanded auditoriums,” said Interim Vice Chancellor for Administration Rich Walker. “On the outside of the building, there will be exterior bracing that will add to the seismic stability of the building.”  
    The old will have to give way for the new, Walker said.
    The work will include the demolition of the old wet labs and provide new classrooms, research and teaching labs and offices for the Department of Physics, Department of Mathematics and Statistics and the STEM Center.
    “Both the Department of Physics and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics have been displaced from the Science Lab for the renovation,” Retzlaff said. “In addition, the STEM Center in the Graduate School has also been relocated.
    “At the end of the renovation, the two science buildings (Science Lab West and Science Lab) will contain safe, state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities. These facilities enhance the opportunities for cutting edge teaching and research by faculty, and also provide opportunities for more student engagement in experiential learning.”
    Walker says the end result will be worth the wait.
    “This will be another excellent academic facility that we’ve been waiting for,” Walker said. “This will be the capstone project to more than $310 million worth of improvements to our teaching and research space at SIUE.”

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