Nobel Hall undergoes renovations this winter: Future science building expected to have advanced labs and facilities and connect to Schaefer Art Center

As Gusties streamed back to campus in early February after a cold, snowy J-Term and touring break, a new landscape was spotted outside Nobel Hall of Science.

Barriers spanned the expanse of the lawns outside of Nobel and as the weeks passed more structures were put up.

Semi-permanent buildings can be seen now as well as markings for the future construction site.

Nobel Hall has been a fixture at Gustavus since its opening in 1963.

It became the central location for the sciences at Gustavus: Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics.

But this renovation is not the first time Nobel has gotten a makeover.

In 1998 significant changes were made to the building and concluded with the Physics Department moving its headquarters to Olin Hall.

But, as one can assume, science has shifted, developed, and changed drastically since the last renovations in 1997.

Along with the emergence of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) the need for state of the art facilities has risen significantly. Without changes to Nobel and developing its capabilities as a building for fostering growth in the various science fields at Gustavus, the number of prospective STEAM majors committing to Gustavus would go down.

Students today are simply just looking for state of the art facilities to further their education in.

Nobel no longer houses just Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics.

It also harbors the interdisciplinary programs of Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Environmental Studies.

By creating “State-of-the-art laboratories [with this renovation] and teaching spaces will facilitate deeper learning and allow for more students to be involved in research projects with our faculty” Gustavus President Rebecca Bergman said.

Not only will this renovation to Nobel include new facilities and classrooms, it will also feature a connection between Nobel Hall and the Theater and Dance Wing of the Schaefer Fine Arts Center.

This connection will also include a new laboratory theater, said Bergman.

This addition will effectively include the “A” in STEAM at Gustavus, connecting the arts to the sciences.

This was done intentionally to show Gustavus’ value of interdisciplinary learning at our liberal arts institution.

But many students have voiced the question: why Nobel Hall rather than other buildings in need of renovations?

The answer to this is simple, in the words of President Bergman.

“We are committed to academic excellence here at Gustavus, and Nobel Hall needed updating due to the fast growth in scientific knowledge, the sophistication of technological and analytical equipment, changing teaching and learning techniques, and the emergence of new interdisciplinary programs” she said.

Students that frequent Nobel also agree that it was important to address Nobel quickly.

Not just for the facilities, but because it has had a couple cases of asbestos.

Different aspects of the building are particularly exciting to science majors at Gustavus.

Specifically, “the new laboratory space and equipment [will] make everything in the lab setting go more smoothly and help students gain valuable techniques that they could use later on” Gretchen Boeckmen ‘19, a Biochemistry major, said.

Also, “the new equipment, like the laboratory hoods” will be especially helpful for incoming and current students in the science fields at Gustavus,” Mariah Riggi ‘18, a Biochemistry major, said.

For Bergman “one of the most exciting aspects of the project to me is the updating of our laboratories.

We have designed labs that will be modern and more flexible, allowing for both individual and team-based experiments and research projects to be conducted.

As part of the project, we are also updating much of our laboratory equipment, giving students the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences and know-how that will benefit them beyond Gustavus.”

The renovations will not only benefit students in the various science disciplines at Gustavus, but all students.

Because all students are required to take a science class at Gustavus every student will spend at least a little bit of time in the building.

With renovations many students will have a chance to, perhaps, find their new favorite study space.

“Whether or not a student is planning to pursue a scientific or technological career, the world of science and technology touches all people today in profound ways.  I want all of our students to feel comfortable gaining basic scientific literacy and an understanding of the natural world we live in” Bergman said.

Boeckman elaborated on the benefit of the Nobel renovation as a whole, “it will provide more classroom space so if some academic buildings do not have the available space [for classes] they can have it in Nobel.”

But Bergman has no intentions of stopping at Nobel when developing Gustavus into a state of the art college.

Moving forward the focus will be on maintenance projects, renovations, and upgrades around the campus as a whole.

“We are currently conducting concept planning for changes to Lund Center, particularly to create better spaces for cardiovascular fitness and strength training.

Stay tuned for more on that over the next 6-12 months” Bergman said.