North Central College announces site selection for new science center

Oct 25, 2013

During its annual fall meeting the North Central College Board of Trustees selected a location for a new science center that will create exciting new educational opportunities for students and transform the campus.

After careful consideration the Board has determined that the new science center will be located south of Van Buren Avenue between Loomis and Brainard streets, within the boundaries of the College and University District designated by the City of Naperville.

“The selection of the location for our new science center is an important step,” said President Troy D. Hammond, who holds a Ph.D. in atomic physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “North Central College has a rich tradition of preparing students to become great leaders in the sciences, and our new facility will ensure the continuation of that legacy for generations to come.”

A new science center is a top priority for North Central College to address changes in how science is taught across disciplines, incorporating combined teaching and laboratory space, collaborative research space and more communal areas to foster interdisciplinary conversations. The facility will be designed with additional classroom space to accommodate enrollment growth, particularly in the sciences.

Once constructed, the new facility will replace the Kroehler Science Center, which opened in 1970 when the College was one-third its present size. Several potential locations for new facilities were identified in the 2010 update to the College’s Master Land Use Plan, which is on file with the City of Naperville and available on the College’s website. In recent weeks, input and feedback about the science center site has been collected from faculty, staff, students, alumni, neighbors, City of Naperville staff and others.

In its site selection the Board took into account not only immediate needs, but future needs for additional residence hall space and other academic buildings.

“The Board considered the best possible uses for all the potential sites,” said Steven Hoeft ’73, Board chair. “We feel this location best serves the need for a new science facility and allows opportunities for other sites on campus to serve additional needs of the institution both now and into the future.”

The College hired Chicago-based architectural firm Holabird & Root to design the new science center. Holabird & Root is a highly regarded firm with extensive experience designing science facilities for colleges and universities across the nation, including several in the Midwest. The College also selected Chicago-based U.S. Equities Realty to be project manager for construction of the science center.

The College is evaluating a facility of up to 125,000 square feet and estimates the cost at about $60 million. While the project timetable is dependent upon successful fundraising efforts, the College hopes to open the new facility in fall 2017.

“This is the largest fundraising project in the College’s 153-year history,” said Rick Spencer, vice president for institutional advancement. “I’m confident that our alumni and friends will answer this important challenge.”

In coming months, work will proceed on the facility design and fundraising.

“For several years we’ve been preparing for a new facility,” said Jeff Bjorklund, professor of chemistry, who has represented Science Division faculty throughout the planning process. “Science is taught very differently today than it was when the Kroehler Science Center was built. We’re very excited to move forward with a facility that will better equip our faculty to prepare our students for graduate school and for successful careers in the sciences and science education.”

“The addition of a world-class science facility will have a tremendous impact on the entire campus,” Hammond said. “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates are in high demand in our economy today. We are eager to add a facility that will enable North Central to remain one of the finest comprehensive liberal arts and science colleges in the nation and a vital part of Naperville’s educational, cultural and economic future.”