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The new University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Science and Engineering Complex will be home to the basic sciences. The groundbreaking is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at 14th Street South between University Boulevard and 10th Avenue South.
As UAB enrollments have grown and many college departments have faced significant challenges in finding space to educate and train both undergraduate and graduate students, it is imperative to UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences to build a facility that can support its goals of attracting faculty, increasing grant funding and training the next generation.
Ilias Perakis, Ph.D., professor and chair of the UAB Department of Physics, says they wanted to create new opportunities with a modern approach.
“We asked ourselves a question: Why be constrained by the past when the opportunities to impact the future are boundless?” Perakis said. “Then we designed a Science and Engineering Complex that empowers our community to face the grand challenges of our society.”
The $76 million, 138,842-square-foot instructional facility will house classrooms alongside faculty and staff offices. The building will also include multiple collaboration rooms that encourage a team learning environment, including project-based research labs that allow for student shadowing.
“This impressive new complex will build upon UAB’s national and global leadership role in research, innovation and education,” said UAB President Ray Watts. “It will also accelerate our efforts to grow a robust, technology-based economy for our region and state, and educate the science-based workforce of the future. The thoughtful design and strategic location will foster collaboration as never before — campus- and communitywide — as we train a talented and diverse next generation of leaders in the sciences and engineering.”
Carefully designed and strategically located, the building will concentrate undergraduate and graduate classrooms and laboratories in a cohesive campus environment.
The building will establish a landmark structure that will identify UAB as the state’s premier research university and provide state-of-the-art facilities and technology to make UAB and the region more economically competitive.
“The thoughtful design and strategic location will foster collaboration as never before — campus- and communitywide — as we train a talented and diverse next generation of leaders in the sciences and engineering.”
“Science is central to modern life,” said Steven Austad, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of UAB’s Department of Biology. “The new Science and Engineering Complex will expand the College of Arts and Sciences’ capabilities to educate students and the public about the latest advances in science as well as provide the research facilities to ensure that we maintain our status as the premier scientific research institution in the state.”
The goal of the building is to enhance collaboration with other schools, including the School of Engineering, the School of Medicine and the Collat School of Business, while also fostering partnerships with business and civic leaders to facilitate critical local and statewide workforce developments to spur entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The architecture of the Science and Engineering Complex will reflect one of UAB’s shared values: collaboration,” said UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kecia Thomas, Ph.D. “Having this space that is designed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration will escalate the productivity of our scientists. I am personally excited about how students will encounter this new space. My hope and expectation are that they will identify as scientists early in their time at UAB as they occupy a space with other STEM students and develop a sense of a collaborative community. I look forward to breaking ground for this new facility, where there will likely be many breakthroughs by the scientists and students who will work here in ways that will transform and improve our community.”
Located in the heart of campus, next to the UAB Mini Park and Mervin H. Sterne Library, the building will be at the center of the student experience. The Hill Student Center, Heritage Hall, University Hall and the UAB Campus Green are just across the street from the Science and Engineering Complex, making it convenient for faculty and students.
“The new complex provides enhanced facilities to support current and future faculty and students,” said Pam Benoit, Ph.D., senior vice president of Academic Affairs and UAB’s Office of the Provost. “We are excited about how the new facilities will support our evolving educational and research efforts.”