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UTA to rejuvenate and renovate Life Science Building

UTA to rejuvenate and renovate Life Science Building

The Life Science Building sits Nov. 1 south of the Central Library. The building first opened in 1970.

The Life Science building’s upcoming renovations will overhaul some old limiting aspects, expanding the possibilities of the facility.

The renovations will expand the building, remodeling labs and classrooms. These improvements will enable more active learning, and allow the department to hire more tenure-track faculty.

The College of Science hoped to see the project happen for a long time, college dean Morteza Khaledi said in an email.

“Over the decades the Departments of Biology and Psychology, as well as the dean’s support staff, have grown to the point that the building’s present dimensions aren’t sufficient for our needs,” Khaledi said. “The ability to have a more modern, fully renovated and enlarged building will be a tremendous asset for our faculty, staff, and students.”

Biology chair Clay Clark has been part of a committee working to hire an architect firm as well as a construction manager firm, he said. The committee, made up of department chairs, facility managers and individuals from the architect and construction management team, met about every two weeks to discuss the general design of the renovations and additions to the building.

Khaledi said the project involves major renovation of the current spaces and the addition of about 88,000 square feet of new space, which will result in about 300,000 square feet of space.

“The renovated and new spaces will be open and contiguous, will allow greater interactions and communications between researchers, and will be more conducive to collaboration,” he said. “In addition, the state-of-the-art laboratory spaces will be more flexible and can be reconfigured to meet different needs for specialized research.”

The classrooms and lecture halls will be redesigned to better suit a shift toward more active learning, Khaledi said. The number of teaching laboratories and computational facilities will also increase to accommodate future growth.

The renovations include a new addition on the north side of the building, which faces the library, Clark said.

The current courtyard on the north side will become an indoor atrium. The new additions are expected to mostly house new student labs, as well as some departmental offices.

“We want people to get really excited when they come into the building to see what we're doing,” Clark said. “The current plan is to house a lab that we're developing for fermentation sciences, which would basically tap into the beer brewing industry. We hope that will be on the first floor or close to the first floor of the building so that as students walk into the building, we’ll have that science on display.”

Biology junior Carlos Leon has a year left of school and said he finds the idea of the renovations exciting. He hopes the renovations will include updates to the first floor men’s bathroom.

Clark said the plan is to renovate the old part of the building into research labs. Once construction and renovation is finished, there should be enough space to hire new faculty, he said.

“We're still at these sort of high level talks [like], where does everything fit into footprint? Do we have enough office space? Where will we put office spaces? We're not down to the point of, you know, designing individual rooms yet. So that'll start early next year,” Clark said.

The new additions will be added first, which includes some redesigned classrooms, Clark said. Then, they’ll move on to renovations in order to keep interruption of classes down to a minimum.

“This is a building that's 50 years old. It's served the university well over the years, but now it's time to modernize the facilities for both more modern research endeavors as well as more modern teaching techniques,” Clark said.

Geology senior Emma Lattimore said that she’d like to see displays that feature the work of of the professors to recognize the work they’re doing before it’s published.

“They might have little personal displays, like ‘I'm working with salamanders,’” Lattimore said.

Clark said that currently the department is understaffed by about ten faculty, but there isn’t any space for them to hire these needed faculty.

“This new space is really going to open up the opportunities for us to hire new faculty which all bring in new research programs,” he said. “That provides lots of opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in research projects with the faculty in the department.”

Khaledi said he finds one of the most exciting aspects of the renovation is that students and faculty will be able to learn and teach in a fully renovated building with the most modern technological amenities. A building with spaces designed to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary research and learning.

“I think we're gonna be proud of this when we're done,” Clark said. “I hope the students will appreciate this building for many, many years. Really one of the motivations for us is to give something to the students that they will have and cherish and utilize for generations.”

@WolfIsaly

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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