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Updated 2:00 PM January 19, 2004
 

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'Science is done here'
Regents approve new U-M-D building



Science students and those planning to become K-12 science teachers will benefit from a new building to be constructed at U-M-Dearborn. The Board of Regents approved the design of the building Jan. 15.

The project, which will include 15,000 net square feet, is due to begin this fall and be completed in 2006. Cost of the project is $9.6 million, with 75 percent of the funding coming from the state of Michigan. The campus will fund the remaining 25 percent.

(The Stubbins Associates)

The building will allow the Dearborn campus to expand programs involving environmental, cellular and molecular studies, and science education, says Paul Zitzewitz, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Natural Sciences at U-M-Dearborn.

"The main public entrance to the building, set off with an observatory on the roof and a glass-enclosed display and gathering area on the main floor, is designed to communicate the fact that science is done here," Zitzewitz says. "The labs, classrooms and other spaces all are designed to help our students prepare to enter graduate or professional schools or go into businesses or industries that need employees skilled in modern laboratory techniques in the natural sciences."

National studies have shown science programs that sustain student interest are those that generate a "learning community" including students and faculty members, Zitzewitz says. "The design of this building will serve to enhance our learning community in many ways, by allowing students to experience meaningful investigations in a community where faculty are committed to seeing students as partners in learning."

Among other features, the building includes a lecture hall that will encourage group work, labs that allow students to work with each other and with faculty members on projects, and support spaces providing scientific instrumentation that can be used in several different disciplines.

One of the most distinctive features of the new building will be an astronomical observatory including a 16-inch telescope, along with four other stations to mount telescopes on a third-floor deck of the building. The campus has received a $144,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support the purchase of the main telescope.

In addition to its use in astronomy classes, the telescope will help advanced students work on independent projects that may lead to publishable data, says Donald Bord, professor of physics. The observatory area can be isolated from the rest of the building for community programs, including sky-watching nights, and is completely accessible.

The building, which was designed by the architectural firm The Stubbins Associates, will be just west of the campus's current Science Building.

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