Brand New Building: For Science!

Building plans for an $82 million science building on Tech’s campus have been set into motion. The structure will be more than 150,000 square feet, making it the largest structure on campus once completed. The total budget for this project is approximately $82 million dollars.

Claire Stinson, Ph.D., is the vice president of planning and finance. Stinson said Tech put $4 million dollars towards the planning phase of the endeavor last July. This funding covered program planning for the chemistry (and several biology) classes the building will be designed to support as well as labs, equipment and student spaces.

Currently, the planning phase is being wrapped up and the design stage is forthcoming.  

The project is partially funded through the planning stage. However, Tennessee Board of Regents and Tennessee Higher Education Commission is expected to approve the full amount by 2015, at which time construction will begin.

Of the $82 million dollar budget, Tech is responsible for providing $18.7 million. The state  will provide the remaining $63.2 million.

According to Tech’s strategic plan for 2011-2015, the new science building will be located near the residency halls Ellington and Warf where a parking lot is currently located. It is estimated to be finished sometime in 2017. Tech’s future plans for its campus also include proposals for a large area of outdoor student space, a new fitness center and a fountain among the mandatory maintenance to existing buildings.  

Stinson said, “I’m not on campus 24-7 but some [students] are. They live here. Students need a place to go.”

Despite the benefits of the proposed additions to the campus, landscape and facilities, one major drawback will be evident to commuting faculty and students alike – parking. If all the proposed changes are approved by TBR and THEC, most of the parking within the campus’ interior will be replaced with infrastructure.

Initially, a parking garage was considered to make up for lost spaces. However, a garage would not be eligible for funding from the state as it is considered auxiliary rather than a necessity.  Building a parking garage would cost the University $15,000 per parking spot.

The proposed solution is to create new parking lots on the outer edges of campus. One lot will be located past Tech Village and the other will take the place of Foundation Hall. If approved, there will be a shuttle service offered to transport students and faculty throughout campus, stopping every eight minutes.  

“I think it’s good that Tech is taking the initiative to improve its suitcase-campus quality, but it blows my mind to think that a solution to current parking issues were not at the top of the list. Parking is a problem now,” said Kati Woods, Residential Life administrative assistant and former Tech student.

Lewis Hall, Foundry Hall, Foster Hall and the Old Maintenance Building will also be demolished to make room for green space if the strategic plan is accepted. Their current functions will be carried out in one of the new facilities proposed.

Although some of the changes are currently pending approval, Stinson is optimistic about Tech’s proposed campus additions.

“It is exciting to have the potential to change the entire face of campus,” Stinson said.