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New engineering building approved

Kate Antonacci | Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Yet another part of the University’s 10-year strategic plan will come to life in the next few years in the form of a new $69.4 million College of Engineering building, the University officially announced Tuesday.

The Board of Trustees approved plans for the 142,000 square-foot construction on Notre Dame Avenue at its Feb. 2 meeting.

The construction – which will sit between the McKenna Center for Continuing Education and the Hesburgh Center for International Studies – will replace the existing University Club.

The building project comes at a time of expansion for the engineering department in terms of increasing numbers of students and faculty joining the College.

“This wonderful new facility will address multiple needs in our College of Engineering – providing much needed space for our emerging research in nano technology and energy, and enhancing the interdisciplinary experiences of our undergraduates,” University President Father John Jenkins said in a press release.

The building – to be named Stinson-Remick Hall – will boast an 11,800-square-foot semiconductor processing and device fabrication clean room, a nano technology research center and an Energy Center, according to the release.

The structure – whose exterior will stick to the “brick gothic” style seen on campus – will also feature a “huge learning center” for undergraduate engineers, which Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said the University desperately needs.

“This [new building] is just additional space for engineering. They will still continue to occupy the old buildings. It’s not replacing anything … it’s responding to additional needs we have,” he said.

The ideal start date for construction would be late November, Affleck-Graves said, though work may be delayed until early 2008 if all of the planning is not complete by the fall. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2009 or early 2010.

The construction timeline was moved up because funds were collected earlier than expected.

The University began to raise money for the new building in early 2000-2001, Affleck-Graves said, and it took five years to close the project. The collection time was less than half that of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in the fall of 2004, and is similar in size to the engineering building.

Though the University has been in the “planning stages” for six years, construction on such a project cannot begin until funding is secure.

“The big buildings are more difficult because they are a large amount of money,” Affleck-Graves said. “The dorms have been a little easier, they are a little cheaper.”

An Indianapolis-based architectural firm has been working with the University for the past six to eight months, Affleck-Graves said, during which time architects have met with engineering faculty to determine the needs in the building.

The University did not disclose the name of the architect.

Because faculty in biological sciences often work with those in chemical and biomedical engineering, Affleck-Graves said that people from different disciplines will get to use the new building – and were consulted in the planning.

“The faculty has to get together about what they want to do in the building, what sort of teaching they do in the building,” Affleck-Graves said. “It’s a continual back and forth between the faculty, the University and the architect.”

The next step in the project is to continue working with the faculty, Affleck-Graves said. The architect has almost finished the design drawings and interviews of three construction firms will begin at the end of February. The construction firm will work with the architect in finalizing the architectural design and doing the design drawing.”

Gradually, the University will “move to place where we say, this is what we need, this is the funding that we have, this is what we can do,” Affleck-Graves said.

In order for construction to begin, the University Club – a private not-for-profit organization founded in 1958 – will be demolished.

“[The University Club is] an independent organization, with an independent board of directors,” Affleck-Graves said. “We don’t have much control of the University Club.”

The University Club was first warned about the possibility of being demolished in 2002, Affleck-Graves said. A few years later, Affleck-Graves “gave them notice they would have to be out sometime after December 2005.”

One alternative is to move the club to what currently is Greenfield’s International Café in the Hesburgh Center. But Affleck-Graves said that it is “really their decision” as the University has no control over the club.

The building gains its name from the principal benefactors – Kenneth and Ann Stinson and Jack and Mary Ann Remick. Kenneth Stinson graduated from the University in 1964 and currently sits on the Board of Trustees. Jack Remick graduated in 1959 and sits on the University’s advisory council for the College of Engineering.

The learning center will be named after benefactors Ted and Tracy McCourtney.