Work on a new science building at Western Kentucky University is continuing while officials remain hopeful it will create a brighter future for students and faculty in WKU’s Ogden College of Science and Engineering.
“It makes a statement about us thinking about the future,” said Cheryl Stevens, Ogden College’s dean.
The new building, named Ogden College Hall, will feature new laboratory space for teaching and research, along with common areas for students to gather and a 300-seat auditorium for lectures and guest speakers. The project totals $48 million and is on track for completion in December 2017.
The new building is needed since it is replacing the demolished Thompson Complex North Wing, a building that dated to the 1960s. Stevens said dealing with the lost space has been tough for students and faculty. The lack of space has forced the college to move some classes to WKU’s South Campus on Nashville Road.
“A lot of what happened was faculty began teaching in what used to be our research space,” she said, adding they’ve had to make the most of it. “That’s not ideal for anybody.”
Stevens added that the new building will be energy efficient to help minimize costs. New fume hoods that are used while working with chemicals will be opened halfway so they don’t allow as much of the treated air outside.
“It’s important for us to be mindful of the cost of operating a building,” she said.
Bryan Russell, WKU’s chief facilities officer, also said the replacement is long overdue.
“This project is replacing a 1960-constructed facility that had become very tired,” he said.
Russell said workers are turning their attention to the building’s interior after pouring structural concrete on all four floors and adding a temporary roof. Workers have started plumbing and mechanical work and the building’s limestone and brickwork.
“Early site work was completed during the dry weather months, which really helped the project,” Russell said.
Funding for the project comes from the state, Russell said. Ogden College Hall will total about 83,000 gross square feet.
“All the money that’s going into this new project is for the students, which I think is really important,” he said.
— Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.