In an effort to increase research opportunities at East Carolina University alongside community partners in a variety of sciences, the university is planning a new research building called the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building.
John Fields, director of Facilities Engineering and Architectural Services at ECU, said the new building will mainly improve access to research for students. Fields said the facilities will include new classrooms and laboratories which will allow students to work alongside scientific partners within the surrounding community.
“This building will create opportunities for partnerships and discovery with our local industry partners, provide for research programs that will be globally competitive, and produce higher-skilled graduates that will be able to compete successfully in the global workplace,” Fields said.
Fields said the building will be located between 9th Street, 10th Street, Evans Street and Cotanche Street.
Robert Brown, project manager for the new building, said utility work has already begun in the area. He said the location of the building would interfere with the main service point for providing power for campus which is being relocated.
Brown said the building will have four main floors, with a fifth floor for mechanical purposes. The project manager said the building will contain approximately 141,000 square feet of construction and there likely would not be a parking deck associated with the building.
“We had intended to potentially do a parking deck, but the project environment that we are building in right now is a bullish market for the construction industry,” Brown said. “Escalating prices are extreme right now. In order to do this project, we are eliminating the expense of a parking deck.”
Brown said the extra funds saved from not building a parking deck would go straight into the building, to maximize the value of the building with the money they were given. However, Brown said the university has identified other locations on campus where a parking deck would be better used, such as behind the new student center.
Brown said Facilities Administration is anticipating the start of construction to be in May 2019, with the 27-month project planned to be occupied by September 2021.
Brown said the main departments the building will serve are biology, engineering and physics. He said the building will be in the new Millennial Campus and will serve as an opportunity for private businesses to make partnerships with the university.
“It allows us to make joint ventures as we develop, find, explore and have positive outcomes of our research that are beneficial to industry,” Brown said. “Because of where this building is located, we can then communicate with industry.”
Brown said the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building is considered the lead building for the development of the Millennial Campus, which is related to the Warehouse District.
According to ECU’s website, millennial campuses are areas where a research-based university partners with government and industry to create new research and new jobs, with the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University being the largest example in the University of North Carolina System.
Brown said in terms of what percentage of floor space goes to each aspect of the building, 77 percent of the rooms in the building will be for research purposes, broken down between research groups, shared research and core research facilities. Meanwhile, seven percent of the building will be instructional space, like lecture halls, and the remaining 16 percent is split between administrative offices, support space and public space.
“It won’t just be ECU classes,” Brown said. “It is also connections with the private sector, so that we can have education and give education in that sense to them, getting that connectivity of what they are doing in the industry and what we are finding in science.”
Brown said the concept of having private partners allows both graduate and undergraduate students to get the experience of dealing with industry, complete with state-of-the-art equipment and it will show them why they are doing their research.
Brown provided a few statements created by Facilities Administration in a collective effort alongside campus operations and campus administration, which was sent to the Board of Governors (BOG) and the legislature to approve their bond request.
“The ECU Life Sciences and Biotechnology building is expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and research for existing academic programs, accommodate the growth of programs approved and established over the last decade, and support the development of ECU’s recently approved Millennial Campus,” the statement said.
The statement included provisions for how the building will remain eco-friendly, citing using an efficient, low-energy system for temperature maintenance along with using natural daylight with large windows to reduce energy used on light.
Brown said the completion of the building in 2021 will allow the university to renovate science buildings, such as Howell, when funding is available. Brown added how they can do this by temporarily moving departments from those buildings to the new one.
“That is growth without having to construct,” Brown said. “In our planning, that was the whole thought. Now, I go and just renovate these spaces, which have a lot of infrastructure in place, instead of having to go ground-up.”
Brown said the Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building will improve the quality of research being done at ECU. He said this building is another step on the path of the being seen as a major university in academia.