Eastern Washington University says it plans to construct a $59.9 million science center on its Cheney campus to supplement a nearly 50-year-old science building that it says has become inadequate.
EWU received $400,000 from the Washington Legislature this past session for pre-design work on the proposed 110,000-square-foot structure, which is being referred to as the EWU Science Center, says Troy Bester, a senior project manager at the university.
If the Legislature later provides funding to complete the project, construction of the facility, if it were built during the 2013-15 state biennium, would cost $38.3 million, EWU estimates. The goal, Bester says, is for the building to be ready for occupancy in 2015.
It's still undecided where on the EWU campus the proposed new science center would be located, but one possible location is near the John F. Kennedy Library and the new Computer Engineering Building, about a block south of the current science center. That site includes the Robert Reid Lab School, which would be razed. The Cheney School District has been using that structure, but plans to stop using it after this year, Bester says. EWU is calling the proposed science building project a partial replacement of the current structure, because the older, 153,000-square-foot science building still would be used for some science-related programs, the university says.
The current building, which houses EWU's biology, microbiology, chemistry, and biochemistry teaching labs and lecture halls, as well as geology and physics programs, is too noisy, lacks adequate research space, and presents health and safety risks, the university says.
The proposal says that complete renovation of the current structure wouldn't be cost effective, but that completely replacing the building could cost in excess of $91 million.
Bester says it's not clear yet which programs would be moved to the new facility and which ones would remain in the current facility.
The university received 24 bids for the pre-design work, and plans to interview four potential architectural or engineering firms early this month.
EWU says that among the current structure's inadequacies is that it has too few "fume hoods," which it says leads to as many as a dozen students sharing a single unit in a lab class, increasing the risk of chemical spill or injury and limiting the quality of instruction. It also has insufficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.
Bester says EWU later would expect to do some upgrades to the current facility, though money for that work isn't included in the cost estimates for the proposed new center.
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