As planning and construction efforts on Science Hill intensify, the first major piece of last year’s $500 million initiative is nearing completion.

The $42 million Class of ’54 Environmental Science Center, located on Sachem Street next to the Peabody Museum, will be dedicated this fall and ready for occupancy by early 2002. While the building is the most visible sign of progress on Science Hill, other projects are ongoing, with some only in the planning stages.

Construction is about to begin on a new chemistry research facility, and renovations to Kline Biology Tower, Osborne Memorial Laboratory and the School of Forestry will all be completed shortly in accordance with the Science Hill plan. Those projects, combined with the opening of the Environmental Science Center, will result in a major shift and expansion of faculty office and research space.

Yale President Richard Levin and Provost Alison Richard, Yale’s chief academic and financial officer, have said the transformation of Science Hill over the next two decades is intended to make the University a leader in science and engineering.

The environmental science facility will house portions of faculty from the ecology and evolutionary biology, geology and geophysics, and anthropology departments. Faculty from the School of Forestry will also occupy the space.

The Peabody Museum will use half of the building for collections, offices and classrooms, and the new complex will be connected to both the Peabody Museum and neighboring Kline Geology Laboratory.

Faculty members are excited about the prospects of moving into the new, higher-quality building.

“People are getting what they expect, and they are quite happy,” said geology and geophysics chair Danny Rye, whose department will move all four of its paleontologists into the Environmental Science Center.

Construction on the facility actually began in 1999 before the $500 million Science Hill Plan was ever announced, but is considered by administrators to be part of the initiative.

Other major Science Hill projects slated to begin soon are work on the $40 million chemistry research building and the approximately $60 million complex for molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. Yale officials, including University Planner Pam Delphenich, have said the chemistry facility will be ready by the fall of 2005. No firm completion date has been set for the MCDB building.

Renovations are continuing on Kline Biology Tower, and modifications to significant portions of Osborne Memorial Laboratory are complete. Work on Kline Biology Tower is being carried out over a course of several years in two phases. The first part, which has already started, is improving the air handling system in the building. When those efforts are complete, the tower’s facade will receive much-needed attention.

As Science Hill buildings reach completion, some faculty will be shifting into renovated or new buildings. The finished chemistry research facility will free up space in the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory for its overhaul.

MCDB faculty in Kline Biology Tower will move to their new building when it is completed years from now, making the tower a swing space for faculty affected by future Science Hill projects. Eventually, physics and astronomy professors will occupy the massive building, deputy provost for science and technology Pierre Hohenberg said.

As difficult as the logistics for planning all of the construction may be, there are other, more trivial difficulties as well. The Class of ’54 Environmental Science Center, named after the Yale class that pumped $25 million into the building poses a particular problem.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do about an acronym for that place,” Hohenberg said.

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