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Architects Appointed for KSC Science Center Project

KEENE, N.H. 2/8/02 - Work to upgrade Keene State’s 1960s-vintage science center is moving ahead, following the appointment of architects for the project.The College has appointed Banwell and Associates of Lebanon, N.H., and Mitchell-Giurgola of New York City, to design and manage the project, which will involve renovating and adding onto the existing building, says Gordon Leversee, dean of sciences. Banwell, which worked with KSC previously on the improvements to Mason Library, will manage the project, and Mitchell-Giurgola will design the new facility.

“We are very pleased to be working with this architectural team on this challenging project,” says Leversee. “We’re looking forward to a facility that will enhance the close interaction of our faculty and students, which is the hallmark of science programs at KSC.”

The need for a bigger, more modern science center has become urgent in recent years, explains Leversee, as recently hired faculty members and new equipment have added capability in areas such as molecular biology, computer science, geology/environmental studies, and science education. The College has also sought to expand its science programs to help solve New Hampshire’s science teacher shortage. Last fall, a general science degree was introduced to provide a broad-based science education to KSC education students seeking New Hampshire elementary or middle school teacher certification.

The methods of teaching science have also changed in the last decade, explains Leversee “Our science center was built when lecturing was the primary means of science instruction, so we have too much big lecture hall space, and too few labs and smaller classrooms,” he says. “A good modern college science building has facilities that help students learn science by doing science, not just sitting in a lecture hall hearing about it.”

Changes to the existing space will include replacing the two large outdated lecture halls with a smaller, more modern hall, and reallocating space so that it more appropriately suits today’s classrooms, teaching labs, and student project spaces. Additionally, major new instruments that have been obtained with over $750,000 of National Science Foundation money and matching funds in recent years will also get new quarters. Mechanical systems, now at the end of their operational lives, will be replaced and air conditioning will be added, not just for comfort in the warm days of summer and early fall, but to maintain temperatures needed for scientific studies.

The addition to the existing building, expected to be about 20,000 square feet, will house new classrooms, labs, and offices, Leversee says. The addition will improve access to facilities, enhance building circulation, and improve health and safety standards in high tech lab areas.

The renovations and addition to the science center, which will cost about $19 million, will be funded by the state, largely in through the Knowledge Economy Education Plan for New Hampshire (KEEP NH), a campaign organized by the University System of New Hampshire to seek funds from the State Legislature for improvements to academic facilities at the USNH campuses.

There is still much work to be done before ground is broken on the project, says Jay Kahn, vice president for finance and planning at KSC. The designs for the center will go to the Board of Trustees for approval in June. The project is expected to be reviewed by the N.H. House Capital Budget Oversight Committee in November. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in spring 2003 and should be completed sometime in the 2004-05 academic year.

For more information, contact Gordon Leversee, dean of sciences, at 603-358-2544.

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