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UW-Stevens Point Science Facility Moves Forward

By Portage County Business Council

A new science center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point took a big step forward this month.
Architects and engineers have been invited to submit letters of interest for the $75 million project, Chancellor Bernie Patterson announced at his State of the University address August 28.

“This building will realize a significant return on investment for the students of UW-Stevens Point and for the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Patterson said. “The new facility will help us best prepare students for careers in today’s technology and knowledge-based global economy.”

The project’s economic impact is estimated at $144 million, according to a formula cited by C3 Statistical Solutions to calculate construction industry impact. The project will generate work for hundreds of construction trades, boosting jobs in other sectors that service the workers throughout central and northern Wisconsin.

The State Division of Facilities Development began soliciting for architects and engineers for the Chemistry Biology Science Building on Aug. 19. Architectural teams have 30 days to submit letters of interest, and four will be interviewed. The architect will be selected in November.
The project cleared a final hurdle in the state Legislature this summer, with funding in the 2013-2015 biennium budget.

The 169,165-square-foot building will contain educational labs, lecture halls and research facilities for biology and chemistry. Flexible room configurations combined with modern technology will support hands-on learning and student research, hallmarks of a UW-Stevens Point education. The building will be constructed with a sustainable, energy-conserving design with a goal of earning a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold rating.

The design includes complex heating and ventilation systems. Just one fume hood, used in chemistry and biology labs, uses BTUs (a measure of energy) equivalent to three homes, said Carl Rasmussen, UW-Stevens Point director of facilities planning. The design will reclaim BTUs of exhausted air.

Because of the complexity of the design, architectural planning will continue through 2014. Bids for the work are scheduled to be accepted in January 2015 with construction beginning that spring.

Construction is expected to take two years. “We anticipate it will be substantially complete in May 2017. We’ll move in summer and hold classes in the fall of 2017,” Rasmussen said.

The new science building is the largest stand-alone construction project in the past 40 years. It will replace a science facility built in 1963. The last major academic building project at UW-Stevens Point was a 113,000-square-foot addition and remodeling of the College of Fine Arts building, completed in 2005.