Two years ago, UMBC announced its plans to construct the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences building to expand both teaching and research space for life sciences programs. The building is slotted to be constructed in the Academic Services building’s current location. The Academic Services building is to be demolished in Spring 2017 and the construction of the new building is scheduled to be completed by Summer 2019.
Offices from the Academic Services building are going to be relocated into existing buildings. Joe Rexing, director of design and construction, said the new building will have a similar footprint to the Academic Services building, only taller.
The Interdisciplinary Life Sciences building will include eight new classrooms, four seating ninety students and the other four seating forty-eight. It will also house six seminar rooms and another six collaborative project rooms. All new rooms have been described as “high-technology” by Facilities Management, including several white boards and monitors in the classrooms, as well as “robust wifi.”
The ILSB will also house four teaching labs, as well as an observation and research lab designed to study the teaching process and classroom techniques. Moreover, the building will include twelve shared research labs as well as an environmental systems lab and a bioprocess and cell science facility. In addition, the ILSB will house an undisclosed amount of collaborative research area as well as research lab support rooms.
The ILSB is intended to be eco-friendly. Rexing said in a presentation to the SGA that the state requires the building to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified at silver, but the Design and Construction team are “shooting for gold.” A green roof, environmentally conscious water drainage systems, and high efficiency appliances are all slated to be included in the construction.
Rexing asserts that although the ILSB is primarily geared to STEM classes, the classrooms are constructed to accommodate any subjects needed. As such the building has the capacity to seat eight hundred students and researchers in the various rooms at any given point in time.
The ILSB will also expand indoor community space on campus significantly. The building will include a large central atrium that will include a great deal of open space for public use. The furniture within the atrium will be outfitted with power sources so that students or organizations will be able to use laptops and other appliances in this area. The buildings classrooms are intended to be centrally controlled, so any club or organization will be able to reserve them.
One concern about the project is the construction’s impact on the nearby area and how it will affect campus operations and events. Design and Construction recognizes that some pedestrian paths will need to be rerouted and that some exits from Commons may temporarily close, but Rexing claims that all construction projects are intended to be “as low-impact to the campus operations as possible.”
Facilities Management will utilize “extensive signage” to help best direct students to detours and around the construction zone. Rexing has also indicated that Design and Construction will utilize campus-wide communication in order to keep students and staff up to date on the construction process. He stated, “We will be messaging the community to keep them informed of minor adjustments to pedestrian paths or roadways…”
The Academic Services building won’t be the only structure directly affected; Commons Circle will also be changed considerably during the Summer of 2017 to increase pedestrian safety and overall beautification. The Quad will also be altered by improving lighting to make the area more useful at night.