LOCK HAVEN-After 10 years in the making, Lock Haven University's Science Center groundbreaking came to fruition yesterday.
The groundbreaking signified the demolition of the current East Campus auditorium (the former Lock Haven Senior High School) that will begin within two weeks, and the construction of the Science Center which should be completed by June 13, 2013 at that site.
Keith Roush, facility director and project manager, completed two studies for the center (the first in 2002), and determined the existing science building, Ulmer, could not handle the requirements, but the East Campus auditorium is more suitable.
NATE WILSON/THE EXPRESS
From left are Mayor Rick Vilello, Don Houser Jr., Guy Graham, Michael Fiorentino, Rich Eichelberger, Bill Hanelly, Dr. Jackie Whitling, David White and Keith Roush.
The first floor will hold the geology and physics department, the second, biology, and the third, chemistry. Each floor will have research, laboratory and classroom space.
"It's going to be a wonderful addition to the university," he said.
Mike Wolf, principal, Highland Associates, is the architect for the building. The biggest concern was that the building fit in with the Water Street district, so he and his team drew the designs with that in mind, creating turrets to blend in with the surrounding peaked roofs, he said. It will be built of brick and stone, also a careful aesthetic choice.
"A science building today would be made of glass and steel," he said. "But we wanted to fit with the existing East Campus building; we didn't want to be out of character."
He utilized input from the science department and faculty to create current technology and an environment for all the classes, he said. Each discipline had a representative on the design committee. One detail was the exhaust systems for the chemistry labs, he said.
Additionally, though it will be sufficient for the departments, of necessity, it's a "very efficient building that can fit into a tight space," he said.
Rich Eichelberger, CFO, Lobar Inc., is the general contractor for the building. Upon demolition, the crew will recycle the current masonry and concrete and grind it up to use as fill on the parking lots and other areas, he said.
"We like to recycle as much as we can," he said. "We're very proud to be part of this project," he said, noting that his company did the Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center. He thinks this building may rival the beauty of that.
Mike Bower, owner of TurnKey Electric, Inc., is the electrical contractor.
Several dignitaries and faculty from LHU spoke about the significance of the event.
LHU President Dr. Michael Fiorentino Jr. said the building will "change the face of the university and community," and thanked those who supported its initial and continued funding at the city, county and state levels.
"It will help us become a better neighbor in the city of Lock Haven... We'll bring new life to this particular area and contribute economically," he said.
He said many students have had conversations about it and will be "proud of the facility and the opportunity (it will afford) their future," whether it's their major or for background courses.
Guy Graham, chair, LHU Council of Trustees, witnessed the original purchase of the facility approximately 10 years ago, and thanked Fiorentino for his vision now.
"This is our pride and joy," Graham said, adding it will help with enrollment.
Dr. Jackie Whitling, professor of chemistry and member of the design committee, said the original thought was to redesign the existing science building, Ulmer, but there was no room.
"I'm very happy the administration (etc.) had the vision and foresight to look at the East Campus facility," she said. "It allows all of the sciences to expand and enrollment, laboratory and research facilities."
In congruence with Fiorentino, she said she's "happy to be integrated within the Lock Haven community."
Additionally, LHU alumni can "look at what it's become and how the new generation can benefit from it."
Mayor Rick Vilello noted afterward it will benefit the community.
"This is exciting-it's change. Some people are uncomfortable with change, but when they see what it will do to the neighborhood... it will be a vibrant science center, a destination place for new students," he said. "Some people who go here may be the next Bill Gates and build their own Silicon Valley in our valley."