With Friday’s dedication of the Class of ’54 Environmental Science Center, Yale completed the first major project in its $500 million plan to revitalize Science Hill.

The new $42 million building will house faculty from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geology and Geophysics, and Anthropology departments along with faculty from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History will use half the building for collections, classrooms and offices.

Yale President Richard Levin, Provost Alison Richard and Yale Corporation member Edward Bass ’68 were among University officials at the dedication Friday.

Although collections from the Peabody Museum are already moving into the building, most professors who will have offices and laboratories in the new facility said they did not plan to move in until at least late December.

“I’m really excited about it. It represents a great opportunity for Yale to expand into this area,” Ecology and Evolutionary Biology chairman Michael Donoghue said. “It’s been very space-limited. I’m really excited about the opportunity to build.”

University officials said they hope the center will spur cooperation between departments. Anthropology chairman Andrew Hill said the center would ensure that faculty from different departments would see each other on a daily basis, and said he believed this change was the center’s most exciting innovation.

Hill added that the center’s facilities are more advanced and specific than those in the older buildings that formerly housed the departments.

“Facilities in the new building are much better,” he said. “There are specially designed labs for the people who are going to use them.”

Located on Sachem Street, the new center connects to the Peabody Museum and Kline Geology Laboratory. The center will contain specimens of plants, animals, shells and fossils from the Peabody.

This coordination with the Peabody Museum will allow researchers to make better use of the collection, Hill said.

The center takes it name from the Class of 1954, which gave the University $70 million in 2000. Of this gift, $25 million supported the construction of the Environmental Science Center.

Work on the building began in 1999, before the University announced a $500 million initiative for science in January 2000.

Other upcoming projects include the construction of a $40.9 million chemistry research building and a $60 million complex for Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. The chemistry building will open in 2005 while the completion date for the MCDB building remains unknown.

The University also plans two more new buildings, one for engineering and one for forestry and environmental studies.

In the short term, professors said the new Class of ’54 Environmental Science Center will make their jobs easier. Hill said the new building will end his days of running between two different locations.

“Everything will be brought together,” he said. “I’m much more integrated now.”