While the demolition of a historic building on campus began on Monday, February 29th, a new building designed to foster research and collaboration will soon take its place. Paul Meyer Hall, the former home of the physics department, will be torn down and the CoorsTek Center for Applied Sciences and Engineering will be built in its place.
Since 1963, Meyer has housed the Mines’ physics department. However, the building has simply gotten too small for the expanding department.
“We’ve outgrown it,” stated Dr. Jeff Squier, Physics Department Chair. “We needed better space on all fronts.” The physics department has seen a huge amount of growth in recent years, and Meyer Hall can no longer supply the department the space and resources it needs.
As it was also the oldest non-renovated building on campus, several building code violations also contributed to the need to tear the building down.
“There were some safety issues, so it was a combination of an aging facility and inadequate infrastructure,” explained Mike Bowker, CoorsTek Center’s project manager.
To prepare for the construction of the CoorsTek Center, Central Planning and Construction (CPC) built a brand-new facility behind the geology museum to house the equipment in Meyer. The new laboratory space includes areas for research in theory, optics, and nuclear physics as well as areas for graduate study. The construction and move-in process took about eight months.
“They [the CPC] pulled off a small miracle,” Dr. Squier expressed. The space will continue to be used after CoorsTek Center is built.
The new building was sponsored by a 27 million donation made by the Coors family, the largest single donation of its kind for the school. Funding by the state of Colorado also made CoorsTek Center possible. The resulting CoorsTek Center will be a 95,000 square-foot collaborative space between multiple departments, as well as the new home for the physics department.
The main architect of the project, Peter Bohlin, previously designed Marquez Hall. For the CoorsTek Center, he focused on collaboration and interaction in its design.
“From the very first meetings, he [Bohlin] said ‘I want to create a building, an environment, where great science and great interactions come together between the people,’” Dr. Squier asserted.
The new building design definitely focuses on interaction; the first floor of the CoorsTek Center will feature studio-style classroom setups, as well as a large study area, designed with student input, that opens directly to Kafadar.
“Informal spaces are really in high demand,” explained Bowker. “This floor has a lot of that.” Informal spaces for students are incorporated onto all floors of the building.
The remaining floors consist of collaborative laboratory space shared between the Physics department and the College of Applied Sciences and Engineering (CASE).
“This building is full of program,” Dr. Squier says. “We really have used every square inch of it.” Physics and materials science will share space, but biological nuclear engineering fields are also expected to use the center.
CoorsTek is expected to be finished and ready for department move in on Oct. 20, 2017.