Lehman College entered a new phase of its history on Oct. 12 with dedication of its $70 million teaching and research building, Science Hall, the first phase of a three-phase complex that will create a “campus within a campus” dedicated to the sciences. The four-story building, equipped with high-tech classrooms and laboratories, as well as a rooftop teaching and research greenhouse, is expected to earn a LEED® Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council for its many sustainable features, including a system to collect, filter, and reuse rainwater.
Scheduled to open for classes in January, the building is designed to serve as a gateway to the sciences for both undergraduate and graduate students and will host several new programs to attract and mentor K-12 students in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — areas in which the U.S. is experiencing a growing gap in personnel.
Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., CUNY Chancellor Dr. Matthew Goldstein, and many other Lehman, CUNY, State, and City officials attended the dedication, which included presentations highlighting the major research being conducted at the College, especially in plant science. Lehman currently offers more than ten majors in math and science and houses CUNY’s Ph.D. subprogram in plant science. The goal of the three-phase building plan is to bring all these programs under one roof, which will encourage greater interdisciplinary collaboration.
“Science Hall, and the potential it holds, represent the best of what public higher education can achieve for our society,” Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández told the more than 200 people gathered outside the building. “Inside its classrooms and laboratories, transformative experiences will occur—learning that will change the direction of individual lives and research that will lead to advances in fighting disease, malnutrition, climate change, and other conditions.”
In addition, he said, the building will help strengthen Lehman’s new programs aimed at creating a STEM “pipeline” for K-12 students, all the way from younger grades through college and graduate study. This summer, Lehman began the Women in Science program with promising female students from local public high schools, while the STEM Scholars program worked with its first cohort of students from the borough’s two CUNY community colleges, Bronx Community College and Hostos Community College. Summer programs in STEM, as well as Saturday and after-school classes offered by the Bronx Institute, already reach hundreds of other Bronx students.
In partnership with Intel, President Fernández announced, next February Lehman will sponsor SciFest, a pilot science fair for high school students in the Bronx. The top ten winners of that competition will go on to the New York City Intel Science and Engineering Fair.
“With the opening of this extraordinary science facility, Lehman College faculty and students will be uniquely positioned to contribute their substantial talents, dedication, and rigor to both the dissemination and creation of knowledge,” said Chancellor Goldstein.
“Lehman College’s new science building is a great step forward for this wonderful university,” said Borough President Díaz. “The programs offered within these halls will cultivate new talent, and will help our students become the STEM leaders of tomorrow. Our modern society is built on science and technology, and I congratulate Lehman on this state-of-the-art facility that will serve as a great example of how we can both help our economy grow and help our students prepare for careers of the future.”
Among other dignitaries attending were CUNY Board of Trustees Vice Chairperson Philip Alfonso Berry, CUNY Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Iris Weinshall, President and CEO Paul T. Williams, Jr. of DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York), Bronx Community College President Dr. Carole Berotte Joseph, Hostos Community College President Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, New York City Council Representative G. Oliver Koppell, and New York State Assembly members Jeffrey Dinowitz and Jose Rivera. Dr. Anny Morrobel-Sosa, Lehman’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, was Master of Ceremonies.
“CUNY is preparing students to meet global challenges—in the environment, the control of disease, the search for new resources and many other areas of human life,” noted Vice Chancellor Weinshall.
The building, designed by the New York-based architectural firm of Perkins+Will, features an array of environmentally sustainable technologies, such as an elaborate rainwater/greywater system to clean and recirculate water for use in restroom flushing fixtures and rooftop solar panels to heat the building’s water. These are expected to significantly reduce energy costs and make Science Hall CUNY’s “greenest” science building.
The new facility was constructed with $70 million in funding provided by New York State, through the CUNY Capital Program, and bonded and built by DASNY. Funding for the rooftop greenhouse of $1.464 million was provided by an allocation from the New York City Council.
“With its integrated mix of advanced-level research labs and active learning environments, the new science facility brings the quality of Lehman’s facilities in alignment with the quality of the educational and research experience,” said Tony Alfieri, associate principal of Perkins+Will.
Other features in the building include a new work of public art, “The Next Generation,” an 800-pound sculpture, made from dense foam, which hangs from the fourth floor of the grand staircase. Created by Long Island-based artist Ned Smyth, it was funded by CUNY’s “Percent for Art” program. Designed to invoke a monolithic rock, it is visible to passers-by through the walls of glass that encase the stairs and flood the lobby with natural light.
The College expects to break ground in 2015 on Phase II of the complex, which will add more wet and dry labs, classrooms, a lecture hall and central atrium. Phase III will refurbish the adjacent Gillet Hall, one of Lehman’s original gothic buildings, to bring all the science departments under one roof.
“We recognize the importance of this facility to the College and its dedication to the advancement of science and technology,” said Bill Gilbane III, vice president of Gilbane Building Co., construction manager for the project. “All of us at Gilbane are thrilled to play a part in realizing those goals. This new facility puts the Lehman College campus at the forefront of science research, education, and innovation in the academic environment.”
Also present at the ceremony were representatives from the schools and science-based institutions with which Lehman has long collaborated, such as the New York Botanical Garden and Wave Hill.
The event was streamed live, and can still be seen at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/26089956
To learn more about Science Hall and Lehman’s STEM programs, visit http://www.lehman.edu/new-science-building/index.php