Butler University trustees approve $100 million science complex renovation and expansion

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Butler university expanion
Image from Butler University's statement

Butler University‘s Board of Trustees has approved a $100 million renovation and expansion of its science complex.

The project is the largest investment ever by the trustees in Butler’s future, the university says in a statement. Work will include new high-tech classrooms, labs, and work spaces meant to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Phases I and II of the project are expected to start very soon, with a predicted 18-month timeline. To date, $27.5 million has been raised for the project. The goal is to raise $42 million of the $100 million total cost through philanthropic support.

The facility will reflect the interdisciplinary nature of science, and eliminate labs designed for a single purpose. Classroom spaces will enable faculty to step away from the podium and move among students in a more hands-on approach to instruction.

“We have outstanding faculty, we have outstanding students, we have outstanding programs, and this project will allow us to take all of that to another level,” says Jay Howard, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who was also part of the project’s original planning committee in 2011. “Science is an ever-changing discipline, and now we will have the flexible facilities to lead the field into the future.”

The project will start with the creation of a connector building–linking Gallahue Hall and the Holcomb Building–that will house classrooms, study areas, and research labs dedicated to Chemistry, Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, and Psychology. The Phase I expansion will add nearly 44,000 sq. ft., as well as a nearly 13,200 sq. ft. atrium. This additional space will create a sciences corridor to house all of Butler’s undergraduate sciences programs in a central complex.

“This is a significant and historic step forward as Butler continues to transform education for the needs of students and employers in the 21st century,” president Jim Danko says.

“Our investment in the sciences, coupled with our new business school facility, provides our campus with the world-class infrastructure necessary to support critical skill development integrating business, science, innovation, and technology. These investments are also part of Butler’s commitment to the Central Indiana region as we strive to attract, retain, and develop the talent necessary for our community’s collective success.”

To prepare students for careers in a discipline that is evolving all the time, the new sciences complex needed a design that could change with new discoveries and new educational approaches.

Lab spaces will be flexible, students and faculty will work side-by-side, and areas of research will be grouped together to maximize collaboration. In addition to visiting other universities’ facilities for ideas, the planning team visited Eli Lilly, Roche, and Corteva to get an idea of what labs at cutting-edge research companies look like.

“Scientific inquiry demands collaboration,” Provost Kate Morris says. “Exciting work is happening at the intersection of multiple disciplines. The design of the new facility encourages this work by creating space that breaks down the traditional barriers between areas of study.”

Phase II of the project will include renovating and repurposing the Holcomb Building, which will be vacated by the Lacy School of Business as it moves into its new building opening this fall. Phase III will involve a complete renovation of Gallahue Hall, which currently houses several science departments and has not been renovated since its construction in 1973.

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