New Engineering and Science Building Opens
By Eric Coker
Binghamton University officially unveiled its new Engineering and Science Building in a Nov. 15 ceremony that featured tours of the $66 million facility and comments from state, local and campus leaders.
"This is an incredible Engineering and Science Building," University President C. Peter Magrath told the standing room-only audience gathered in the building's rotunda. "This is a truly high-quality facility in terms of being energy-efficient, environmentally conscious and helping to continue the economic development that is a critical part of the mission of Binghamton University."
The two-story glass, metal and stone building is connected to the Biotechnology Building, which is part of the University’s Innovative Technologies Complex. The new building houses the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science's dean's office and the school's departments of electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering. Besides state-of-the-art laboratory space, the building also features suites for business start-ups and offices.
"The Watson School has established an unbroken record of accomplishments," said Interim Provost Jean-Pierre (Peter) Mileur. "The campus continues to look to the Watson School for excellence and innovation. This facility offers the infrastructure that our engineers and faculty will need to provide the opportunity to attract new teacher-researchers who I expect will carry the Watson School to the next highest level of national and international visibility."
Funding for the building was obtained through the efforts of state Sen. Thomas W. Libous and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo. It is estimated that during its construction, the building provided $112 million in economic impact.
"This is a beautiful building, but it's what takes place in the building that really matters," Libous said. "It's the quality of the education that you provide. We're creating careers here. I don't want to create jobs – I want to create careers. And that's what you are doing.”
"The work being done here at the Innovative Technologies Complex cannot be overstated," Lupardo said. "This cutting-edge research will continue to translate into innovation and development here in the Southern Tier. These developments are providing hope to a region that has had bad breaks and rough times."
Both Lupardo and Libous stressed the importance of using the new building to educate the community about how vital the University is. Lupardo said she would like to have open houses at the building for science teachers and various organizations. She added that a presentation on the work happening in the building would benefit schools and service groups.
The building was designed by University architect Bill Hall, who was recognized by Mileur during the ceremony. It is tracking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum standards, incorporating passive solar energy for heating, geothermal technology for heating and cooling, energy-efficient windows and skylights to allow for maximum use of daylight. It also includes the latest technology for heat recovery and humidity control. And these green features are already earning recognition. The Engineering News Record recently named the facility the top “Green Project of the Year in the New York Region” in its annual competition.
Watson Dean Krishnaswami "Hari' Srihari thanked those in attendance, saying the "encouragement and support is priceless." He also acknowledged his faculty and staff for helping to "elevate Watson to being one of the top public engineering schools.
"Our faculty and staff realize that in every department, our students are our principal customers and our product," Srihari said.
While the building has features such as research cores that foster collaboration between faculty and students, and a photovoltaic wall that provides solar-technology research opportunities, Srihari said there is one facet that stands above all others.
"I can talk to you for a long time about this building,' he said. "I can tell you that it’s 125,000 square feet. I can tell you that it's $66 million. But perhaps the most important aspect of the building is that it will enhance the academic mission that our students will take part in. This is a significant asset to our students – whether they are freshmen, PhD students or somewhere along the continuum."
Stantec provided civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, and fire protection design services for the facility, working in collaboration with Hall.
"Six [members of] the Stantec team graduated from Binghamton, so it has been special for us to put our knowledge and expertise to work on a project that will continue to help educate the next generation of Binghamton engineers," says Stantec project manager Michael Heikkila. 'It's a great way for the university to showcase the success of its program."