New Science Center, 1999 (click thumbnails for larger images)
A new science building was built after the need for a better area to do lab work arose at Saint John's University. At the time of its construction, Biology was the second largest major on the SJU campus, and students required more space to do quality lab work. In order to eliminate safety concerns and over-crowding, construction took place to build a new facility, as well as renovate the existing Science Center.
Planning for the new science building began in 1994, when architect Gregory Friesen began gathering data. He wanted to create a functional building that was still compatible with the old Science Center, which was designed by Marcel Breuer and built in 1965. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on June 19, 1997. Construction took about one year.
The construction took about a year and cost $8 million; the simultaneous updates to the old Science Center cost $3.5 million. The funds for the new building were acquired through a St. John's bond issue and fundraiser called Discovery. At the time, it was the largest capital project in Saint John's history. Donors were given opportunities to name classrooms, laboratories, specialty rooms or the building itself in exchange for financial gifts.
The New Science Building opened September 8, 1998 and was dedicated on April 16, 1999.
The new facility was two stories and 48,000 square feet. It housed the Biology department and the microbiology, histology, molecular biology and biochemistry labs. One of the biggest highlights of the New Science Building was the Hilger Entrance Hall. It featured a two-story Theisen Pendulum, which demonstrates the earth's rotation and gravitational pull. There was also a dome ceiling with stars, a video display wall, and a gathering space for students.
Special thanks to Ariel Smelter '12 for drafting this text.