This semester marks the debut of the newly erected south expansion of the Nobel Hall of Science. Classes have been moved from the traditional Nobel Hall to the 74,000 square-foot expansion, while the North section receives its own renovation and expansion.
The original Nobel Hall of Science, opened in 1963 and sitting at about 90,000 square-feet, has been home to several departments including Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Geography, and the interdisciplinary department of Environmental Studies.
The south expansion of Nobel includes new state-of-the-art classrooms, twenty teaching laboratories, and faculty offices.
The renovation project, which received final approval in early 2018, began not only with the goal of updating the Gustavus science facilities but also to support diverse learning experiences for students. The seventy million dollar project, completed with the help of an historic forty million dollar donation, will put Gustavus in a prestigious position among liberal arts colleges in the nation.
The projected has been managed by Kraus-Anderson Construction, a long-time partner of Gustavus. The company has also managed the construction of other Gustavus projects including Anderson Hall, Beck Hall, and the reconstruction after the 1998 tornado.
The South expansion connects North Nobel to the Schaefer Fine Arts Center and becomes the tallest academic building on campus at four stories high.
The connection to the Schaefer Arts Center is a very intentional one, showing Gustavus’ commitment to combining the sciences with the arts. The STEAM movement, STEM + Arts, is a growing curriculum movement in the United States that creates a more interdisciplinary approach to the traditional curriculum.
Entrances to the building for students are currently limited to one door next to the Nobel parking lot on the North end, one door on the East end facing Confer/Vickner, and two doors on the West end at the Anderson Theatre.
More entrances and exits are scheduled to open within the next month.
In addition to new classrooms, a laboratory theatre, and other facilities, one of the main attractions for students in South Nobel is the STEAMery Café named after the STEM + Arts curriculum. Students can use their meal account to buy coffee and café-style food in the lounge where they can relax or study.Overall, student reception to the new opening has been very positive.
“I’m really happy about it. Obviously, as a biochemistry major, using the new laboratories is really nice. The old ones were too small and cramped, but these labs are more open and you can actually see what’s going on in the room. They also just seem much safer,” Junior Joseph Lackner said.
Senior Environmental Studies major Elijah Fourre also expressed excitement about the new building.
“I’m so glad it opened before we graduated. It’s super nice, even though it’s kind of a maze to navigate,” Fourre said.
The Geography department has mostly been moved out of the building. However, Professor Jeff La Frenierre is still excited about the building. “I can say that it is exciting to have a modern, spacious science building, with better labs and more student-friendly classrooms. I also love seeing so many students congregating in the STEAMery area. I can’t wait until Geography gets to move back into their renovated homes next summer,” La Frenierre said.
The expansion of Nobel as well as the old Nobel renovation, which began in the summer of 2019, are scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2020. The 12,000 square-foot North expansion will contain a lobby where student and faculty research in the science departments will be presented.