North Central College breaks ground on “transformative” new Science Center

May 15, 2015

North Central College on Friday held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new Science Center that ranks among the most transformative facility upgrades in the College’s 154-year history.

The 125,000-square-foot Science Center is a top priority as North Central College addresses changes in how science is taught across disciplines. The new facility combines teaching and laboratory space, collaborative research space and more communal areas to foster interdisciplinary conversations. The facility was designed with additional classroom space to serve students of all academic disciplines and to accommodate enrollment growth, particularly in the sciences. Faculty experience and the latest pedagogical research have shaped plans for the new Science Center so it meets the needs of students.

“This facility is going to unite our entire Science Division together in one modern facility in which our faculty can provide a truly world-class education for North Central College students,” President Troy D. Hammond said.

As the essential cornerstone of the College’s Brilliant Future Campaign, this extraordinary facility will transform and elevate the experience of every North Central student. Here, students of all majors will learn science by doing it—and prepare for success by living it. The new Science Center encourages interdisciplinary learning and discovery and serves as a valuable resource for all academic departments and the entire campus community.

North Central College’s new Science Center will have a significant educational and economic impact on Naperville and the surrounding region and prepare students for career opportunities in STEM fields. In addition to creating short-term design and construction jobs for local and regional businesses, the new facility will create long-term economic benefits by ensuring the College’s stability in the community for generations to come.

“A great city like Naperville deserves to have a great college,” said Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico. “The new Science Center will enable North Central College to continue the upward trajectory it’s had for so many years.”

The new facility will be home to biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience, physics and psychology and will include dedicated space for the exercise science program and pre-health programs.

“This building will help North Central College students make discoveries,” said Trustee Holly Humphrey ’79, M.D., Ralph W. Gerald Professor in Medicine and Dean for Medical Education at The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. “Some students will make a discovery that will move an academic field forward. Many more students, through the study of science, will make important discoveries about themselves. Still more students will come to better understand the world in which we live and the way disciplines interact with one another.”

North Central College students agree the facility upgrades will enhance an already dynamic undergraduate liberal arts education.

“I feel extremely lucky I’ll be able to take full advantage of the new facility as a senior,” said Kelsey LaMartina, a first-year biochemistry major from Plainfield who plans to become a pediatric primary care physician. “The new opportunities for research and lab space will make learning more interactive.”

The new Science Center will also enable North Central College to “right size” classroom and gathering space throughout campus and reimagine the current Kroehler Science Center and Goldspohn Hall facilities. Additional classrooms in the Science Center will help accommodate North Central College’s enrollment, which has grown to more than 3,000, including 2,800 undergraduates.

The new Science Center will feature:
• 18 teaching labs
• 16 research labs
• 15 classrooms/seminar rooms
• 1 lecture hall
• 19 student gathering spaces
• 53 faculty/staff offices
• Unique academic flex space
• 1 greenhouse

“The building is called the Science Center but really it’s for all students,” said Jeff Bjorklund, professor of chemistry. “It’s going to transform what they’re able to do together in groups.”

Construction will begin this summer when a residence hall and four other structures used as faculty offices are removed from the site and a water main along Loomis Street is upgraded. Excavation and foundation work will occur in the fall, with structural steel installed between December 2015 and March 2016. Masonry and enclosure work will take place from April to August 2016, with interior buildout taking place from fall 2016 through spring 2017. Exterior site restoration and occupancy will occur in summer 2017.

“This is a significant project,” said Board of Trustees Chair Steve Hoeft ’73. “It’s necessary, and it’s a commitment to the future of the College. It’s the right step to take.”

Chicago-based architectural firm Holabird & Root designed the new Science Center. Chicago-based U.S. Equities Realty, LLC/CBRE is project manager. General contractor is Chicago-based Pepper Construction. Civil engineer is Aurora-based Cemcon Ltd. Structural engineer is Naperville-based Larson Engineering. Mechanical, engineering and plumbing is by Burr Ridge-based Ketchmark & Associates. The landscape architect is Naperville-based Hitchcock Design Group. The building’s technology is designed by Naperville-based Advanced Data Technologies.

The Science Center is the essential cornerstone of a $150 million Brilliant Future Campaign that will also grow the College’s endowment to support student scholarships, excellence in teaching by world-class faculty and create additional academic opportunities for students.

A video showing the design of the Science Center may be viewed here.

North Central College science faculty (pictured above, from left): Jennifer Sallee, assistant professor of biology; Paul Brandt, professor of chemistry; David Horner, Harold and Eva White Distinguished Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of Chemistry and Physics; Anne Sherren, professor of chemistry emerita; Nancy Peterson, professor of chemistry; Silvia Alvarez-Clare, assistant professor of biology; Jeffrey Bjorklund, professor of chemistry.

Breaking ground for the new Science Center, above, from left: Rick Spencer, vice president for institutional advancement; Kelsey LaMarina ’18, biochemistry major; Steve Hoeft ’73, Board of Trustees chair, attorney for McDermott, Will & Emery; Steve Chirico, Mayor of Naperville; Dr. Holly Humphrey ’79, Board of Trustees, Ralph W. Gerald Professor in Medicine, dean for medical education at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine; Dr. Troy Hammond, president of North Central College; Dr. Jeff Swallow ’94, Board of Trustees, president & CEO Magnetrol International, Inc.; Dr. Anne Sherren, professor of chemistry emerita; Mike Hudson, assistant vice president for business operations; Dennis Vovos, project manager, Holabird & Root architects; Dr. Jeff Bjorklund, professor of chemistry