$1.2 million still needed for $10 million science center goal

Photo by Jordan Brodner.

Among annual changes on campus, one of the largest and most prominent is the expansion and renovation of Barnes Hall.

The $17 million project stems from the growing number of science majors across the country. The college decided it needed a larger and more accommodating science building.

The Franklin College Science Center, which is set to be finished by January 2019, will offer the opportunity for the college to expand its educational opportunities in the science field while drawing in more science majors.

This isn’t the first time Barnes Hall has faced a remodel. Since the building’s original construction in 1927, Barnes Hall expanded by about 100 feet to the north in 1987. This time, the building is expanding on an even larger scale.

After years of planning and fundraising, students, faculty and staff are beginning to see the blueprint become a reality.

“The extension has a great architectural design that compliments the building nicely,” said Evelyn Buchanan, vice president of development and alumni engagement.

Members of the Franklin College community, including President Thomas Minar, facilities director Tom Patz and retired biology professor Steve Browder, kicked off the construction of the new building during a groundbreaking ceremony on May 18.

 “This group is as motivated as the rest of us,” Buchanan said. “We all want that building to be ready to go.”

The Hagerman Group, the college’s hired construction company for the project, is on track to complete all work by the proposed date.

“Everything is going smoothly and ahead of schedule — knock on wood,” said Thomas Armor, the company’s senior director of development and planned giving. “The curriculum was the drive behind this project.”

The project promotes a “learning by doing” concept, providing students with the resources they need to succeed in the science field.

Buchanan said another goal for the science center is to encourage a higher level of leadership for students. With the new areas for study, students will have the space to grow.

The new 51,000-square-foot science center will undergo two major phases of construction and renovation. The current stage, the first phase, is the construction of the new addition — a 21,000-square-foot, three-story high building. Classes are still held in the current Barnes building.

The labs will move to the new addition in May 2018 when phase two begins — the renovation of the existing Barnes structure.

Former President Jay Moseley previously envisioned the new center as a nearly $25 million building. However, once Minar arrived, construction plans were scaled back to make fundraising more practical. 

The first donor to the project was late Trustee Margot Lacy Eccles. Her $2.5 million donation via her estate was matched by the college’s Board of Trustees.

Before passing in 2012 at age 76, Eccles and the Lacy family also donated to various projects on Franklin’s campus, including Grizzly Park, the college’s outdoor athletic facility behind Elsey Hall.

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