Phase III of Ball State’s Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and Health Professions Facility Expansion Project, will be the university’s main priority in state biennial budget requests.
Phase III includes the renovation and partial demolition of Cooper Science Building and would cost $59.9 million to raze 131,000 square feet of Cooper and renovate 162,000 square feet.
Several years ago, campus master plan consultants said the Cooper Science Building, which was constructed in the 1960s, was "an eyesore" and an "energy hog" that would be difficult to renovate, according to previous Daily News reporting.
In early April 2017, students sent state legislators letters to help replace Cooper Science. The letters included grievances spanning from leaking pipes, mold and algae growing in the building and insufficient class and laboratory space.
In the weeks following, the state announced it would fund the construction of a $87.5-million Foundational Sciences Building, which will allow the university to clear out Cooper for renovations.
During Friday’s meeting, the Board approved renderings for the five-story, 205,000-square-foot building, which is slated to break ground in fall 2019. It will house six classrooms, 28 teaching and 44 research laboratories, a research library, an imaging suite, conference rooms, computer labs, collaborative space and faculty offices, according to a university press release.
“The Foundational Sciences Building is a significant step forward in meeting a critical need for the state of Indiana,” said Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns in a press release. “The marketplace is seeking skilled and adaptable professionals who are knowledgeable, adept at critical thinking and problem-solving, and devoted to lifelong learning.”
The construction of the building is scheduled to be complete by fall 2021.
Previously, the state approved phases one and two of the project, which totaled $150 million. Phase I — construction of the $62.5-million Health Professions Building — broke ground in September 2017 and is slated to finish construction by fall 2019.
“We’re in good shape, it's moving along, scheduled to be completed some time in May," said Jim Lowe, associate vice president for facilities planning and management. "Then, we'll start moving in furniture, training staff, so on and so forth, and it will be up and running the fall semester of 2019, so we’re in great shape.”
The new building is anticipated to cover 165,000 square feet and include classrooms, laboratories, offices, a resource hub, simulation labs/suites and clinical spaces. It will be deemed the College of Health.