Viewed from overhead, the long-awaited Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Building at Snow College is progressing toward completion. The target completion date is Aug. 8.

Viewed from overhead, the long-awaited Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Building at Snow College is progressing toward completion. The target completion date is Aug. 8.

Long-awaited science building will dominate campus

Building will put Snow back on the map in science education

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

3-16-2017

EPHRAIM—Construction of Snow College’s long-awaited Robert M. and Joyce S. Graham Science Building  is coming along well, says Dan Black, Snow’s dean of science and chemistry, and a tentative completion date is set for Aug. 8.

“We have a pretty good science tradition at Snow,” Black says, “but over the last few years our science facilities have just become kind of dated. This new building is going to put us back on the map.

“The new design and facilities are really going to bring us back up to speed where we should be, and I think it’s going to fast-forward us into becoming a real player in the education industry.”

After receiving a $19.6 million appropriation from the 2015 Utah Legislature and about $3.5 million from private donors, the school had enough to fund the building. A ground breaking was held in November 2015.

Okland Construction of Salt Lake City has been working steadily to meet the tentative deadline, says project manager Ryan Hales.

The 56,600 square-foot building will be comprised of two wings, one dedicated to laboratories and the other mostly for classrooms and offices.

The wings will be connected by a glass bridge lined with study and lounge areas for students. Between the wings will be a courtyard, which will be designed with a water theme.

In fact, Black says, water will be a reoccurring theme throughout the building. The theme transcends design aesthetics to incorporate real science, Black explains. The three floors of the building will represent the three states of water, the first floor representing the solid state of ice, the second floor representing liquid and the third floor representing water in its gaseous state.

The dual-wing design also allows for the sun to provide much of the light needed throughout the day. “The building was designed so that every classroom, every lab, every office has exterior windows to bring in sunlight,” Black says.

The building will be a mix of old and new, traditional and cutting-edge building techniques. “It’s mostly built with traditional techniques, such as steel beams,” Hales says.

But one innovative feature, Hales explains, is an air barrier system that will create an airtight seal to prevent contamination from outside coming in and will aid in keeping the building at controlled climate levels, one of the requirements for the new science building.

“Essentially, the building will be all positive pressure,” Hales says of the air barrier system. “There will always be air pushing its way out of the building to keep outside air and water from seeping in.”

According to Black, the air barrier system is not the only way the new building will use air to help with climate control.  The chemistry lab in the building will have a dozen independent fume hoods to enhance ventilation and help prevent lab accidents.

Another change in the lab setting once the new science building is complete will be addition of chemistry “pods.” Black says each pod can fit up to four people comfortably and will have its own hookups and ventilation.

The pods are designed to encourage group collaboration in experiments while isolating the research or experiment from outside influences.

In an effort to maintain flexibility, some areas, such as the chemistry lab itself, have been designed to be multi-purpose, Black says. A retractable wall can either divide an area into two separate chemistry labs, or retract and convert the space into a 24-seat classroom.

A couple of other modern features will be a biology research lab similar to what students would find in the workplace, and an engineering lab equipped with materials testing equipment.

Black wants the science building to provide offerings to the community beyond the student population. He says he wants the building to be an embodiment and figurehead of science for Snow College.

Interactive learning displays are planned throughout the building. The displays could showcase technologies such as 3-D printing. A planetarium is also being planned. The displays are meant to inspire curiosity in science. He foresees the public touring the displays and engaging in STEM-oriented education events there.

We want this building to literally ‘speak’ science,” he says.

Dan Black, dean of science and chemistry, points to the planetarium under construction in the new Snow College science building.

Dan Black, dean of science and chemistry, points to the planetarium under construction in the new Snow College science building.

 

A modern ventilation and climate control system has air ducts snaking through the walls and halls of Snow College science building, currently under construction.

A modern ventilation and climate control system has air ducts snaking through the walls and halls of Snow College science building, currently under construction.