Sometimes it makes more sense to start from scratch and get it right than to try and retrofit and modernize older lab buildings. That's just what Ohio State University in Columbus decided to do for its Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry Building (CBEC). The new 225,000 gsf lab building broke ground last month and will replace 4 older facilities that had deferred maintenance and lacked proper floor-to-floor height, structural dimensions, and environmental stability. The New Koffolt Laboratories will be LEED-certifiable (possibly Silver) and will constitute a substantial upgrade with their science wet labs, computational research spaces, shared core laboratories, instructional spaces, and offices. The $126M project is due to be completed in September 2014.
Ohio State's new science and engineering facility will do more than just replace older structures. Consolidating departments in one building also promotes collaboration between colleagues. Furthermore, the nature of research and research funding these days encourages a broader vision for the makeup of the research team. According to chemistry chairman Malcolm Chisholm, from an earlier interview about the then-proposed project:
“The overall university plan is not to increase the square footage in terms of footprint but the quality and impact of square footage we devote to teaching and research. To bring these departments into proximity is about fostering interactions. When it comes to getting research dollars, federal or otherwise, one needs to hunt in packs and you may need an engineer, physicist, chemist or biologist as part of a team to solve some of these important problems that Ohio State is focusing on.”
Stuart Cooper, chair of chemical and biomolecular engineering, noted that many of his faculty have joint appointments, and it just makes sense to have like-minded departments working together.
So how important is the "bio" in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry? Interestingly, in the department's most recent strategic plan, administrators were considering changing the undergraduate degree to match the department name. Why? Because it would make their B.S. candidates more marketable. They cite a study showing a decline in chemistry jobs over the past decade in every sector except pharma. To improve their students' opportunities, the thinking goes, they could add more bio courses to the curriculum and broaden the major to be one that always includes a bio component. It's the kind of trend that suggests a much larger shift in thinking about the interrelationship of the sciences at all levels (and the continued growth and importance of the biosciences).
Ohio State University has already been able to leverage the new building's assets to its advantage in recruiting top CBEC faculty. Knowing that state-of-the-art wet labs and infrastructure are only a couple years out is often enough to attract that promising young scientist who might have gone somewhere else.
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is looking forward to being in Ohio next week to hold two of our popular midwestern BioResearch Product Faire events:
- 8/01/2012: University of Cincinnati BRPF, click here to see flyer
- 8/03/2012: Ohio State University, Columbus BRPF, click here to see flyer
BCI is a full service event marketing and planning company producing on-campus, life science research tradeshows nationwide for the past 20 years. We plan and promote each event to bring the best products and services to the best research campuses across the country. Visit our website for information about upcoming shows in your area and to register to exhibit or attend. Or call to talk to one of our friendly, knowledgeable sales associates.