Academic East on track to be completed by August 2019

Haley Mullen, Assistant News Editor

According to the University’s Associate Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability, Ken Ogawa, the construction of Academic East is “still on track.” The new building will stand in the open area behind the Bertrand Library, next to Academic West. The building’s three-floor design, containing laboratories and classrooms, aims to encourage an open and collaborative learning environment for students and faculty within the College of Engineering and the Department of Education. Despite the current work on the University’s new Humanities Center, the construction of Academic East has remained on schedule to begin in early April of 2018. This $37.9 million project is expected to be completed by early August of 2019.

The Humanities Center, the University’s largest construction project at this time, is expected to be completed over spring break of 2018. This building will contain collaborative meeting spaces designed to serve humanities students and faculty. The Humanities Center will also house the University Press and the Griot Institute for Africana Studies.

“Only two weeks after the [construction] fences around the Humanities Center come down, the construction fences for Academic East will go up,” Ogawa said.

Designed to achieve the LEED Gold Standard for Sustainability, Academic East will contain elements intended to minimize energy usage, including high performance systems and architectural designs. Large solar chimneys will take advantage of rising hot air, while the building’s sensors will utilize temperature information to open and close the building’s windows as needed. A sloped roof of the building and its windows will be constructed to block harsh high angle sun, such as is experienced in the warmer months, and let in low angle sun to aid in warming or cooling the building. The sloped roof will prevent the building from fully obstructing the view of the Susquehanna River. Academic East will also contain two “green walls” which will be filled with plants.

“All data from the building’s information systems will be tied to computers and a command system where any students can see the building’s information in real time,” Ogawa said. Engineering professors plan to integrate the environmentally friendly aspects of Academic East into their teachings.

In a 2016 campus discussion concerning the new building, Keith Buffinton, a now former professor of mechanical engineering and co-chair of the Academic East Steering Committee stated that the Committee was “exploring from an architectural perspective ways that Academic East can include more easily recognizable sustainability features, yet would still appropriately complement the surrounding buildings.” Buffinton also said the building will be “owner occupied,” as it will be “more informal and flexible than Academic West, yet still appropriately complement the surrounding buildings.”

“I am most excited for the lab space in Academic East because the lab space in Dana and Breakiron can be restricting due to the size of the rooms. Also, new labs can mean new and improved research opportunities which I am really looking forward to,” Caroline Fakharzadeh ’20 said.

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