csii-2.jpgThe Board of Trustees and President Ronald A. Crutcher are inviting the Wheaton community and local residents to share in the official groundbreaking for the college’s new Center for Scientific Inquiry and Innovation on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 3 p.m.

The groundbreaking for Wheaton’s largest project will be at the construction site, next to the current Science Center. Balloons will mark the way to the ceremony, where representatives of the faculty, student body, administration, and Board of Trustees will take shovels in hand to symbolically launch the building.

The ceremony will be followed by seasonal refreshments–hot chocolate, hot cider and hearty hors d’oeuvres–in the Science Center lobby.

Slated for completion in 2011, the 99,000-square-foot project, which includes the construction of a new, three-story building and the renovation of the first floor of the existing Science Center, seeks to create an expanded and improved science center that embodies the college’s Connections curriculum.

The Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the project during its meeting in May. Funding for CSII, which is expected to cost approximately $50 million, will come primarily from gifts supplemented by financing. Already, more than $18 million has been raised for the project.

“The Center for Scientific Inquiry and Innovation will dramatically change the Wheaton campus,” said Crutcher. “We are building a space that will serve all students, no matter their major. It will truly be a center for campus activity, and it will put the sciences more squarely at the center of a Wheaton education, which is fitting in our fast-moving, technological age.”

The CSII project will help students make the most of the college’s Connections curriculum by creating spaces that encourage collaboration among fellow students and faculty members and facilitate interdisciplinary learning and research. The design of the project–its use of open space and glass to create visual connection and its inclusion of numerous public spaces, for example–aims to embody the curriculum.CSII

Among the laboratories that will be created will be multi-use labs uniquely suited to collaborative, interdisciplinary research among students and faculty, said Tommy Ratliff, associate professor of mathematics and the faculty coordinator for the project. In addition, the new building will include five classrooms outfitted for transformation into research labs, allowing the science program room to evolve as students’ needs change. “When this project is complete, our students are going to have the space they deserve for the outstanding work they do,” said Ratliff.

The project’s design also reflects Wheaton’s commitment to environmental sustainability. The new center will incorporate a host of features-including a “green” roof-that will enable the building to earn LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a nationally recognized benchmark for sustainable buildings established by the U.S. Green Building Council. The project’s goal is to exceed base certification and attain the LEED’s silver certification rating.

The new building will be located next to the Madeleine Clark Wallace ’34 Library and the Balfour-Hood Campus Center and connected to the existing Science Center. In fact, an extensive renovation of the center’s first floor is an integral part of the overall project. The location of CSII will provide a strong pedestrian link to the Haas Athletic Center as well as providing a new connection between the lower campus and the library. More information and regular updates on the project are available atΒ