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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Chemistry buildings to be updated

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Lab desks in the Chemistry building on campus sit after classes are done. Chemistry professor Flemming Crim said the building is currently not properly equipped and that labs will be renovated under the project.[/media-credit]

Last month, the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a proposal for renovations and expansions to UW-Madison’s Chemistry Building and chemistry facilities at two other UW System schools to better serve students.

Associate Chair of the College of Letters and Sciences Robert McMahon said the need for construction arose from a lack of adequate facilities to serve the increased enrollment in chemistry classes.

McMahon said he brought the need for construction up in a presentation to the Board of Regents. He added undergraduate enrollment in Chemistry has increased by 50 percent in the past 20 years.

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The university does not have the space needed to offer enough General and Organic Chemistry courses to meet student demand, McMahon said.

McMahon said because there is no space for group projects or discussion and no capacity for innovation, it is difficult to implement open-ended research experiences within the programs involved.

In addition to space constraints, the three wings within the Chemistry Building – The Shain Research Tower, the Matthews Building and the Daniels Building – are outdated in their mechanical infrastructure and safety amenities, McMahon said.

McMahon said inquiry has revealed there is inadequate ventilation in the labs and added this could lead to a shutdown of existing research and instructional laboratories.

McMahon said the new building will feature increased energy efficiency through a new heat recovery system that will connect the Shain, Matthews and Daniels buildings.

McMahon said the cost estimate for the construction project is $103,490,000 and should be completed by 2020.

Professor Flemming Crim in the Department of Chemistry said currently the chemistry building on campus is not equipped to provide the type of learning environment the university would like to offer and added the proposed construction seeks to address both space and safety concerns.

“The project will remove the low part of the Daniels building on the north and build a new tower in that place with lecture halls and laboratories,” he said.

Crim said the project will renovate several existing laboratories in order to bring them up to modern safety standards.

Crim said the energy modern fume hoods in the organic labs are to provide better ventilation and increased lab analysis space. These are some of the specific features which will be seen in the new tower and updated labs.

The renovated laboratories will also increase access to chemistry laboratory courses and allow for more sophisticated and effective instruction, Crim added.

Associate Chair of the UW Department of Chemistry Hans Reich said the proposed project is currently the highest priority for new building construction in the UW System and added the proposal is still waiting on approval from the State Building Commission, Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Reich said if the proposal passes, students will be able to take the classes they need when they need them so they can complete their degrees on time.

“The new buildings will provide students with a much richer lab experience,” Reich said.

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