University lays out plan for sustainable chemistry building


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Photo by Rendering Courtesy of Ghislaine Darden |

A sustainable, four-story chemistry building behind the Wright Rieman Laboratories has been planned by the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology that will feature a state-of-the-art research space.


Sustainable science research buildings are rarely given the energy demands of state-of-the-art instrumentation. Despite the expense, Rutgers is planning to construct an environmentally friendly research space on Busch campus.

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology is fortifying plans for a new, energy-efficient four-story building with an expected completion date in 2016, said Antonio Calcado, vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning. Rutgers plans to build it behind the Wright Rieman Laboratories on Busch campus.

The 145,000-square-foot, five-floor building will feature state-of-the-art research space and classrooms designed to support the needs of chemistry research and education, according to the 2014 Rutgers Strategic Plan.

The plan is for the building to replace Doolittle Hall, the Geological Sciences Laboratory and the set of trailers in between the two, Calcado said.

Photo: Rendering Courtesy of Ghislaine Darden

A sustainable, four-story chemistry building behind the Wright Rieman Laboratories has been planned by the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology that will feature a state-of-the-art research space.

The building is meant to help various programs affiliated with the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, including the biology and geology programs.

They plan to house instrumentation for chemical, biological and materials analysis in the basement, said Eric Garfunkel, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

The plan includes an auditorium on the first floor, two classrooms, a stockroom, an administrative area and a lobby. The rest of the floors are to be dedicated to research and training.

The building, calculated to cost about $115 million, is primarily funded by the state with an $82 million grant from the Building Our Future Bond Act, Calcado said.

“We thank the people of New Jersey for approving that bond,” he said. “That made planning the construction that much easier to handle.”

Rutgers would pay for the rest of the estimated $33 million, he said. The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology is fundraising to make the load lighter for the school.

Garfunkel said fundraising efforts include approaching alumni, companies and foundations. He anticipates they should continue until the University is finished with construction.

“The building has many naming opportunities,” he said. “Specific chemistry researchers have or are forming centers like ‘Drug Design’ and ‘Sustainable Chemistry.’”

The classrooms, auditorium and unclaimed core facility laboratories would also need names, he said.

Roger Jones, chair of the Department of Chemical and Chemical Biology, said the building would support Rutgers in catching up with the changing sophistication of research in the field of chemistry.

“[A new building] gives you a new space, which is great, but it also gives you the opportunity to be more energy efficient,” he said.

The department is on track to be certified gold by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, he said.

The LEED system rates buildings based on their sustainability and efficiency, according to their website.

“I think it will be the only gold building on campus,” he said. “A chemistry building is pretty energy intensive, so we’re doing everything we can to be sustainable.”

Donna Kohl, executive director of administration of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, said the new building is a good opportunity to house new instrumentation, laboratories, students and faculty.

The basement would house modern lasers, X-rays and various spectroscopies, she said.

“We need the space since we’re busting at the seams right now and really don’t have state-of-the-art labs that we need,” she said. “[The Wright Rieman Laboratories] is a pretty dreary building.”

Most of the complications associated with the planning are a result of the aged infrastructure of Busch campus, Calcado said. Construction teams would need to realign roads, tear down buildings and move programs.

He said the building committee of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology had a smooth execution in preparing the space and moving the biology and geology programs in between semesters.

The department temporarily moved the biology program to a building that used to be a legacy — the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey building Rutgers obtained in the integration, Calcado said.

The geology program is planned to move to the library annex of the current Wright Rieman Laboratories.

With careful planning, their design to achieve LEED’s gold certification should be successful, Calcado said. He said the building is a smart investment and assures that now is the right time to replace a building that is a little more than 60 years old.

He said the current Wright Rieman facilities are lagging behind the rest of higher education.

“We’re having many high school students leaving better labs than the labs they’re coming to,” Calcado said. “It’s because Wright Rieman is really four buildings put together — the first one dates back to 1947 and the last one in 1986.”

Technological and scientific advancements are difficult to achieve in an old building, he said. With a new building, the department can work with state-of-the-art products and teach qualified chemists.

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology received the most funding on a national scale earlier this year, he said.

“If this department can do what it does in a building that’s 60 years old with minimal renovation to it, imagine what it can do with a 21st century building and good quality merchandise,” he said. “It’s unlimited, what its potential could be.”


By Andrew Rodriguez

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