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Trustees approve debt for new science buildings

By Graham Dobereiner

Section: News

November 4, 2005

The Board of Trustees approved a motion Wednesday to allow the University to take on $100 million dollars in debt for a new science facility.

We can now move on with schematic design, said Daniel Feldman, Associate Vice President for Planning, Design, and Construction.

The construction as currently planned would occur in two phases. In the first phase, a facility would be built on or near K-lot and the nearby hillside. Upon completion of this facility, the Kalman and Freidland buildings would be demolished.

In phase two, a new building would be constructed on the current Kalman site. It would be built to replace Edison-Lecks, which would be knocked down upon the completion of this second building.

According to Feldman, phase one would begin construction in spring of 2007. The building would be occupied in fall 2008, and Kalman and Freidland would be demolished within a few months. Construction of the second phase would begin in Spring 2009, and end by Spring 2011, at which point Edison-Lecks would be demolished.

The total cost of the new facilities is currently estimated at $154 million. Feldman said $80 million of the debt approved on Wednesday by Board of Trustees would go to the project, and the remaining $74 million would be paid for with gifts from donors.

Despite the cost, Feldman believes the new facilities will be worth its price. There will be huge advantages cost-wise, he said. He cited energy costs as a concern of the current structures. Single paned glass is used in these buildings;

you cant even use that anymore, as it doesnt meet current energy codes.

Feldman believes the current buildings are not up to Brandeis standards. The facilities are no match for our faculty, in terms of research labs and teaching labs. Theyre not appropriate for the level of the programs that we offer.

Feldman also feels the current buildings dont fit with the interdisciplinary environment at Brandeis. The existing facilities almost completely lack interaction spaces. One of the hallmarks of what makes science here great is its interdisciplinary nature, and we dont have the kind of facilities to facilitate that, he said. Were hoping to fix a lot of that with the new buildings.

The architectural firm Payette Associates presented a general proposal of its past projects to the Trustees at the Boards Wednesday meeting. Feldman says the firm addressed concerns at other institutions that are similar to Brandeis.

According to the website of Payette Associates, the firm has previously worked on science facilities for several institutions, including Duke University, Middlebury College, and Harvard University.

Feldman said that there are many ways the community has been a part of the planning process thus far. Many focus groups have been scheduled, and many are yet to be scheduled. Were having meetings with faculty, staff and students to look at all aspects of the project. He added that faculty committees have been meeting and discussing the new facilities.

Following the current schematic design stage, the proposal will be sent to cost experts to try to give a more accurate assessment as to what this will cost, said Feldman.

After review and confirmation that cost is within budget, the proposed construction will again go before the Board of Trustees. If the Board approves the project proposal, the design development stage will begin, followed by the formation of construction documents.

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