With the Oct. 14 groundbreaking of MCLA's Center for Science and Innovation, construction is officially underway! Attended by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and other legislative - as well as educational - officials, the ceremony celebrated the start of the academic building for the campus in 40 years.
According to Gov. Patrick, the Center is an investment in not only those of all ages who hunger for knowledge, skills development and enrichment, but also an investment in innovation for the Berkshires - the same type of innovation economy that is booming in other parts of the Commonwealth. "It is unglamorous, but important infrastructure. It's been a long time coming," he said.
MCLA President Mary Grant, who was lauded at the ceremony for her leadership and collaborative efforts that made the high-profile project a reality, said the three-story building will be the type of facility that will support both dreams and the future.
She thanked the many individuals at MCLA and in state government who made the Center a reality. Those officials include former state reps. Peter Larkin and Daniel Bosley '76, as well as former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III , who were in the audience.
Speaking on behalf of the Berkshire Legislative delegation, Bosley said that making the science center a reality was both a personal and political priority.
"When John Barrett III and I were first elected, he as mayor and I as a city councilor, Sprague Electric announced they were leaving. With them went 36 percent of the city's workforce. I still hear people in this city say that they want manufacturing jobs to return. In reality, it's not manufacturing jobs, its value-added jobs they want. This Center will bring those value-added jobs to the city and to the region," Bosley said.
The Center - to be built on Blackinton Street, between the Office of Admission and Montana Street - represents an extraordinary investment by the Patrick-Murray Administration in public higher education in Berkshire County and is a vital economic development investment for Massachusetts.
A $54.5 million investment in MCLA, it marks the single largest investment in public higher education in the history of Berkshire County. In addition to the $30 million Center, an additional $24.5 million will go toward the renovation of Bowman Hall in anticipation of the relocation of the College's math, sociology and computer science departments to that building, along with its robotics program and a Geographic Information System lab.
Created by Einhorn Yaffee Prescott of Boston, Mass., and the state Division of Capital Asset Management, the Center's is designed after the College's oldest building, Murdock Hall. It will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, offices, laboratories, research and presentation space, and will include a rooftop classroom, greenhouse, outdoor instruction areas and photovoltaic solar panel array. Energy-saving design features will be incorporated in accordance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system.
Once completed in fall 2013, MCLA's chemistry, biology, environmental science, psychology and physics departments will be housed in the 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, high tech and energy-efficient Center. In addition, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Pipeline program and the Berkshire Environmental Resources Center will be headquartered there.
Currently 27 percent of MCLA's students are majoring in a STEM field. With the new Center and a newly designed chemistry major on the way, more are expected.
"This is a day that none of us now - or soon to come - will ever forget," said Todd Foy, Jr. '12, president of MCLA's Student Government Association.