UW-Stevens Point science building clears final OK for construction

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point received its final legislative approval to construct a new chemistry-biology building.
The State Building Commission granted authority to proceed with construction during a meeting in Madison April 29. Its initial approval of the construction came two years ago after the project was included in the governor’s capital budget.

“This is the decision point we’ve been waiting for to gain authority to construct,” said Carl Rasmussen, facilities planning director at UW-Stevens Point.

UW-Stevens Point faculty and staff are fine-tuning building specifications and expect to receive final drawings for review in late June. Bids for construction are scheduled to be released in late August, and opened a month later. With successful bidding, a contract will be awarded in October.

Ground breaking is scheduled for mid-October. Construction is expected to be completed in November 2017.

“It’s a great day for our students and faculty, and for the future,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson. “We appreciate the Building Commission granting authority to move forward with a needed project that will improve educational experience.”

The 176,500-square-foot building will contain educational labs, lecture halls and research facilities for biology and chemistry. Flexible room configurations combined with modern technology will support hands-on learning and student research, hallmarks of a UW-Stevens Point education.

This is the first new, free-standing academic building to be constructed on campus since 1971.

The Building Commission on Wednesday granted authority to spend $75.18 million, a slight increase from the $75 million in capital funding approved as part of the 2013-2015 biennium budget. The additional $182,000, from UW-Stevens Point student fees and program revenue funds, will be used for a vegetative green roof on a portion of the building as well as a small café.

A request to use $150,000 of campus funding to design, complete documentation and verification, and construction supervision necessary for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification was denied by the State Building Commission.  

The science building will continue to be designed and built to meet sustainable LEED standards. Design work is being done by Potter Lawson, Inc., Madison; and HOK, St. Louis, Mo.

The four-story building will be constructed on Lot X adjacent to the current Science Building and Fourth Avenue.  It will include four 55-seat classrooms, two 110-seat lecture halls and research and teaching labs on each floor.

The new space will help prepare students for advanced academic pursuits and success in today’s technology and knowledge-based global economy, said Chris Cirmo, dean of the College of Letters and Science. “This keeps us at the cutting edge of science and the economic driver for central Wisconsin.” 

The $75 million in capital funding can only be used for this building. The capital budget is separate from the base state operations budget. Cuts proposed to the UW System budget for the 2015-17 biennium are not affected by the capital budget, nor can they be reduced by not constructing the science building.

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