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SMC construction to continue throughout year

| Thursday, August 27, 2015

This fall, construction continues on the Patricia Wiedner Purcell Athletic Fields and Science Hall at Saint Mary’s.

According to the College’s website, both projects are funded through the completed $105 million Faith Always, Action Now campaign. According to the Saint Mary’s Facebook page, Patricia Wiedner Purcell and her husband Paul are significant benefactors of the new athletic complex. Purcell is a 1969 Saint Mary’s graduate and a member of the Board of Trustees.

After initial planning in 2008-2009, the construction team broke ground on the fields in spring 2015 and plans to have them completed by late October 2015, Austin Stahly, manager of energy and facilities projects, said.

“The concept for this project arose out of an inherent need to continue to make significant improvements to our athletic complexes while enhancing the experience for our student-athletes and fans,” Stahly said.

news photo of construction, 20150716,_Photo courtesy of Gwen O'Brien

Austin Stahly, manager of energy and facilities projects at Saint Mary’s, stands with Ben Bowman, director of facilities.

Stahly said when construction is completed, there will be new soccer, lacrosse and softball fields, as well as new lighting, scoreboards and press boxes for each field. Interconnecting sidewalks will lead from entry gates to various buildings and bleachers.

“[Students should expect] an increase in the competitive nature and livelihood for all of our athletes with a positively correlated experience for the fans and spectators,” Stahly said. “This will also allow for multiple practices and games to occur simultaneously.”

The construction directly impacts the Saint Mary’s soccer team this season. According to the the team’s website, all home games in 2015 will be played at the Jr. Irish Soccer Club’s Airport field six, near South Bend Regional Airport

In communication to College staff, director of Media Relations Gwen O’Brien said fourteen maple trees were removed during construction. The timber will be used in a future Angela Athletic and Wellness Complex, for which fundraising is still in progress, O’Brien wrote.

Construction is also being done on campus to update Science Hall. According to Saint Mary’s website, the renovation for Science Hall was funded by Jennifer Mathile Prikkel, a member of the class of 1995, and her parents Clayton and MaryAnn Mathile.

Plans for Science Hall have been in the works since 2010, with construction beginning in spring 2015. Stahly said the College plans to have the renovations completed by fall 2016.

“This carefully planned phased renovation to the Science Hall will create new learning and study spaces that encourage collaboration between peers, not only in their own department but across disciplines as well,” Stahly said.

Science Hall was originally built in 1956 and was renovated in 1985. Today, the two-story building houses undergraduate classrooms and research activities for 10 science departments, Stahly said.

“In both professional and academic settings, scientific inquiry increasingly relies on active collaboration among colleagues who offer different skill sets and perspectives,” Stahly said. “Yet the majority of science students still learn in traditional classrooms built for isolated, passive student learning.”

Stahly said collaborative learning will be encouraged with the installment of shared teaching and research areas on the first and second floors. Science Hall will also include multiple classrooms that seat more than 20 students, two research labs and four new faculty offices, in addition to more renovations.

In the renovated basement of Science Hall, students will experience two new physics labs, a 48-seat classroom, new bathroom facilities, three offices, a lab prep room and a research lab. A three-zone automated controls greenhouse is already completed, he said.

“We anticipate this design will reflect a highly adaptive facility which will support interactive, collaborative and experimental learning, enhancing the development of innovative approaches to teaching and learning,” Stahly said.

“This project, with the right kind of classrooms, will allow students to begin thinking in ways that break down the walls between disciplines and help them understand the integrated nature of what they are studying,” he said.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn