On a still wintry day, as students hurried to their classes while a light snow covered the campus, a new era began at Lehman College—the new Science Hall officially opened as the first ever classes were held in the $70 million structure. (See video.)
“It really was a remarkable day, all the way around,” said Dr. Liesl Jones, the chair of the Biological Sciences Department.
Although only a few classes were held on the first day of the new Spring 2013 semester, the first floor of the building was a beehive of activity as students, who had never stepped foot into the building looked around for their classrooms.
“It definitely gives the College a whole appeal and a great new look,” said Ricardo Figueiredo, a sophomore business major who was taking an early morning biology lab class in the new building.
Some like Abdallah Ahmady, a sophomore biology major, didn’t have any classes in the building on opening day, but still wanted to walk through Science Hall to see it up close on his way to his class. “I just wanted to walk through the building to see how it looked. It’s really nice.”
The $70 million, 69,000-square foot building is a hi-tech blend of teaching, research, and administrative space. It has been designed to promote collaboration among scientific disciplines and at the same time integrate teaching with research to increase undergraduate engagement with current research projects. Among the projects being researched at Lehman are vitamin A deficiency; cancer and schizophrenia; and medicinal plants for possible use in diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Science Hall was also built to be a green, environmentally friendly structure. The building is slated to receive a LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building has a rooftop greenhouse that will be both a research lab and a classroom, where much of Lehman’s pioneering research in the plant sciences will take place.
“This building was made for research and collaboration,” says Dr. Moira Sauane of the Biological Sciences Department, who was conducting the first lecture on molecular biology in the build’s history that morning. “In the lab, researchers can actually see each other. It makes it all the easier to work together.”