CMU’s $95M Biosciences Building Construction Hits Halfway Mark

MT. PLEASANT — Nearly 900 cement trucks have delivered approximately 8,800 cubic yards of concrete in 365 days.

That’s just one milestone reached at this week’s one-year anniversary since construction began on Central Michigan University’s new $95 million Biosciences Building. The 169,000-square-foot structure is the largest capital project in CMU’s 123-year history.

The building — held together with 15,000 steel framing studs, which if placed end to end would stretch nearly 40 miles — now stands four stories tall. Energy efficient windows and 2,268 terracotta panels — each weighing nearly 140 pounds, a total of about 150 tons — are being installed, and construction on the building’s interior has begun.

Andrew Reihl, CMU construction project manager, said there are numerous activities involved in a building of this size. Lansing-based Clark Construction Co. is the construction manager and has regular planning meetings to review the building’s construction progress.

“Each building detail is written on a sticky note and placed on a large calendar.” Reihl said. “By the time the Biosciences Building is complete, more than 5,800 sticky notes will have been used, which is enough to cover the CMU football scoreboard.”

The interior construction of the building is well under way and includes a multipurpose auditorium, active learning classroom, informal meeting spaces, and an open floor plan that allows for adaptability, shared resources and a level of collaborative learning beyond what currently exists at CMU.

Located on the south end of campus in between the Engineering and Technology Building and the Education and Human Services Building, the Biosciences Building will address escalating student demand and dramatically improve the quality and quantity of instructional learning and scientific research space.

“Nearly 920 CMU students now major in the biosciences compared to 450 in 2009, and more than 7,500 students a year take biology classes,” CMU president George E. Ross said.

Over the last decade, tenure-track biology faculty has increased 71 percent and external grant funding increased more than tenfold. The building will house 40 research-active faculty members and provide space for classrooms and laboratories.

Opportunities for collaborative research in the Biosciences Building also will allow the university to continue to establish itself as a leader in human and environmental health.

Specialty research facilities will include:
* an equipment storage, staging and sample-processing storage area for ecological fieldwork;
* a biosafety Level 3 laboratory to research infectious diseases;
* an isotope laboratory;
* an Imaging center for scanning and transmission electron microscopes;
* a herbarium; and
* a vivarium to replicate aquatic conditions for research.

The Biosciences Building will be at least LEED Silver Certified, balancing the safety needs of a modern science building with energy efficiency.

Central Michigan University’s board of trustees approved the construction of the new building in April 2013. The state of Michigan allocated $30 million for the project, and the remaining funds are coming from CMU internal reserves, contributions and proceeds from the issuance of bonds.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based Stantec Inc., the lead architectural firm that created CMU’s education building, also designed the biosciences building. Construction is scheduled for completion in September 2016, and students will be able to start taking classes in the new building in January 2017.

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