California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) recently dedicated its new Hall of Science, the largest capital building project in the campus’s 62-year history. It is also the largest and most expensive building project in the California State University (CSU) system.
The $105-million project encompasses nearly 165,000 gross square feet and completes the Natural Sciences Complex. Within the complex, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) provides CSULB’s principal curriculum for majors leading to careers in science, technology, engineering and the health professions.
“This new facility will further our commitment as a university to educating scientists and future generations of scientists. Cal State Long Beach has become a national leader in graduating scientists with more than 3,100 last year alone,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander. “We are confident that this new state-of-the-art facility will give us one of the most complete and modern science complexes in the United States and will have invaluable impact on California and this nation for decades to come.”
The new Hall of Science opened this fall and houses 31 directed studies laboratories, 29 teaching laboratories, several large lecture halls and a science learning center. Other features of the building include a marine biology lab, three rooftop greenhouses and a rooftop astronomy platform.
The new space is being used by several departments, including biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, physics and astronomy, science education and geology. In fact, two-thirds of all science courses at the university are being taught in the new building.
“To paraphrase a National Science Foundation study, improved spaces have a significant impact on campuses. Our new Hall of Science will enhance our efforts to attract and keep first-rate faculty and students,” said Laura Kingsford, CSULB’s dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “In addition, it will enable the integration of research and education, and the cross-disciplinary collaborations that are the hallmarks of science in the 21st century.”
Construction on the Hall of Science broke ground in 2008 and was completed in 2011. CSULB officials noted that the campus utilized a design-build process– a common approach in the UC system but the first ever in the CSU system– whereby the architect and contractor worked as a team to present a design that met CSULB’s specific needs for one cost. The building was completed on time and on budget despite a three-month hiatus in 2008-09 when the state halted all bond-funded projects.
Hunt Construction Group, Inc. of Irvine served as contractor for the CSULB Hall of Science project, and Smith Group, Inc., based in Los Angeles, served as the project architect.
“Together with the Molecular and Life Sciences Center, which opened in 2004, and the existing Microbiology Building, the Hall of Science gives our campus an outstanding science complex,” Kingsford pointed out, “which allows students to engage in research and discovery-focused learning using laboratories and classrooms equipped with technology and instrumentation not commonly found in undergraduate programs.”
The keynote speaker at the dedication was Robert Decker, founding member of the Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute and professor emeritus of medicine and cell and molecular biology at the Northwestern University School of Medicine. Decker is also a CSULB alumnus who earned a B.S. in zoology with a minor in chemistry from the university in 1965.
Other speakers at the event included CSU Chancellor Charles Reed and CSULB Provost and Senior Vice President Donald Para.
“Cal State Long Beach has long been a campus of choice and a leader in undergraduate research,” Kingsford said. “The new Hall of Science will only enhance CSULB’s appeal to students who wish to pursue degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields and help ensure its position as first in the nation among master’s-granting universities in producing graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees in science and technology research fields.”