KENOSHA — Carthage College will break ground Tuesday on a $43 million expansion and renovation of science facilities.
Carthage is renovating its existing 70,000-square-foot David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences while also constructing a 35,000-square-foot addition on the building’s south and east sides.
The addition is being completed first and should be ready for students in January. The renovation will happen after that and should have a grand opening in August 2015, said Brad Andrews, senior vice president for institutional advancement at Carthage, 2001 Alford Park Drive.
Carthage is planning the science upgrade in part because interest in science majors is booming; the percentage of graduates with degrees in natural science has doubled in the last decade, according to the college.
The upgrade also is planned because the existing facility — constructed in the 1960s and renovated in the 1990s — doesn’t meet current faculty and student needs, staff has said.
The new and updated space will include:
-- 12 new laboratories with moveable equipment so rooms can be converted for use on various research projects, from space flight work to studies on cancer drugs.
-- Glass-walled classrooms and laboratories to allow students and visitors to see “science on display.”
-- A two-story, glass-enclosed atrium for exhibits, student poster presentations and planetarium shows.
-- An outdoor classroom with natural stone seating overlooking Lake Michigan.
-- Collaborative learning areas outside classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices so students and professors can gather for informal discussions and project work, according to Andrews and Carthage.
“It’s an exciting project to completely remake half of our main classroom building. This is really going to change the teaching and learning that happens at Carthage,” Andrews said.
“Having said that, it is a complicated and intricate project and it really is quite amazing how the faculty and the administration and the staff have been working for two years now to not only plan the new building but (to also) plan this transition time during the construction.”
Some students and faculty will be temporarily displaced. The rest of the current academic year will go on uninterrupted. But in the 2014-15 academic year, there “will be some temporary accommodations and adjustments,” Andrews said.
“The construction plan has only a few labs offline at any point during the construction process,” he said. But some faculty will move to temporary offices and some classes may get held in conference rooms. Space also will likely be temporarily utilized in other academic buildings or in the library.
The new and upgraded spaces have been designed by Stantec, a Canadian architectural firm known for its science buildings and student-life centers. Kenosha-based Riley Construction is the construction manager, according to Carthage’s website.
The college in January 2013 announced the project was estimated to cost $40 million. The price tag is now estimated at $43 million. Nothing has been added to the scope of work; rather, the new estimate is more “thorough,” Andrews said.
The college is paying for the project with existing funds and fundraised dollars, and officials are still actively pursing donations, Andrews said.
“We are making sure to pay all of our bills as we go along. We’re paying it out of dollars we’ve already raised as well as our operational budget,” he said. And “we are in conversations with our most loyal and committed and generous supporters, donors and friends, asking them for gifts to help complete the project.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Ceremonial groundbreaking for Carthage College’s expansion and renovation of the campus’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences.
WHEN: 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 6.
WHERE: Trinity House lawn, located along Lake Michigan at the north end of campus, 2001 Alford Park Drive, Kenosha.