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Union College to build science, engineering center

Plan aided by $13M gift from former prof’s family

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
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Shown is an artist's rendering of the Peter Irving Wold Science and Engineering Center (building in center).
Shown is an artist's rendering of the Peter Irving Wold Science and Engineering Center (building in center).

— Union College is proposing to build an $18 million addition on its campus to house state-of-the-art research laboratories and classrooms for science and engineering, the college announced.

The college will present a site plan for the three-story, 35,000-square-foot structure to the Schenectady Planning Commission on Feb. 18.

Doug Klein, dean of interdisciplinary studies for Union College, said construction is scheduled to begin this summer with completion in the fall of 2011.

The building will be called the Peter Irving Wold Science and Engineering Center. Wold was a professor of physics at Union from 1920 to 1945. His son, John S. Wold, former U.S. congressman and Wyoming state representative, class of 1938, and John Wold’s wife, Jane, donated $13 million toward construction of the building, Klein said.

“Thanks to the Wolds, Union will embark on a project that will solidify the college’s role as a national leader in the integration of science, engineering and the liberal arts,” said college President Stephen C. Ainlay.

“The Wolds have long been steadfast and loyal supporters of Union, in particular those initiatives that allow the college to bridge the traditional disciplinary boundaries as only Union can,” Ainlay said.

Klein said the college has wanted to build the addition since 2002 and started seriously planning for it three years ago. The college put the project in its capital plan, and it would have been built eventually, Klein said. The Wold contribution gave the project priority, he said.

The college will finance the remainder of the cost through a fund-raising campaign, Klein said.

The center will be constructed between the Social Sciences building and the Schaffer Library, in the heart of the campus. Klein said it will follow an architectural style outlined in the college’s 1813 master plan. The exterior will consist of gray stucco with white columns.

The building will contain classrooms and laboratories for biochemistry, environmental science and engineering, as well as energy research. It also will contain space for incubator research programs in acoustics and aerogel, a rooftop energy research laboratory and high performance computing space, Klein said.

“We are making space for existing programs in science and engineering,” Klein said.

Union College does not anticipate increasing its student population, which is now approximately 2,200, with the additional of the center. The new facility will, however, enhance the college’s research capability, Klein said.

The current science and engineering buildings were built more than 40 years ago, before research was a practical part of the curriculum, Klein said. Research is now required, hence the need for additional research space.

Architect Einhorn, Yaffee and Prescott of Albany is designing the building to obtain the “Gold Standard” in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, Klein said. A LEED building is environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

 
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