Bates College plans to build new science building by 2021

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LEWISTON — Bates College is moving ahead with plans for a new three-story science building on Campus Avenue that it plans to open by the start of the 2021 fall semester.

The building, between Bardwell and Nichols streets, will have classrooms, study and meeting spaces and research and teaching labs, the college said.

The new facility, which is a focus of the ongoing $300 million Bates Campaign to raise money, is meant in part to address the perception that Bates isn’t doing enough to support students and faculty who have passion for science.

“We need teaching and research facilities that will attract top faculty and students and support excellence in teaching, learning and research,” the college said as part of its fundraising effort.

Bates said in a prepared statement that the new building “will support teaching and research at an advanced level attractive to top faculty and students. Its design will reflect current thinking in science pedagogy; provide flexible, pleasant and efficient work spaces, and incorporate cutting-edge technologies.”

In addition to erecting the new 54,000-square-foot science building, Bates leaders plan to renovate Dana Chemistry Hall and the Carnegie Science Hall. Dana would become an introductory science center and Carnegie would receive upgrades to its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The cost of the new building is uncertain, but the college said its overall science facilities project “will be supported by a $50 million gift from the family foundation” of Michael and Alison Grott Bonney, who graduated from Bates in 1980. Michael Bonney is the chairman of the Bates board of trustees and is the chief executive officer of Kaleido Biosciences.

Bates’ institutional plan, last updated in 2016, said the natural sciences at Bates “need appropriate teaching and research facilities in order to support excellence in teaching, learning and research; facilitate collaboration; improve efficiencies; increase capacity; and allow flexibility.”

It said the chemistry, biology, and neuroscience departments are housed in too many locations across the campus, creating both inefficiencies and barriers to cooperation across departmental lines.

Faculty members said they needed to operate more closely across disciplines to stay ahead of a constantly evolving field of knowledge.

The new building “really is about putting people together who have shared research areas and shared research needs,” Ryan Bavis, co-chairman of Bates’ STEM Facilities Building Committee and the Helen A. Papaioanou Professor of Biological Sciences, said in the college’s prepared statement.

The plan called for making an accessible new facility that would allow for more collaboration, state-of-the-art videoconferencing, extra space for science education scholars, exhibition space and more.

Geoffrey Swift, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer, said the project will also serve “to get some of our most energy-intensive and resource-intensive research labs into best-practice, state-of-the-art facilities,” according to the college’s statement.

Bates hired architectural and construction-management firms this winter to get the project underway.

The Boston architecture firm hired for the project, Payette, specializes in buildings for health care, health sciences and academic sciences.

Bates hired Payette in 2016 to guide its review of science and technology facilities that ultimately produced a plan that starts with the new building, the college said.

The Massachusetts-based Consigli Construction Co.,which has an office in Portland, was tapped as the project’s construction manager. It served in the same role for Bates’ new dining hall that opened in 2008 and two dorms on Campus Avenue that opened in 2016 that will be next door to the construction site.

“We’re thrilled to have them partner in another project,” Chris Streifel, a Bates project manager who will oversee the science-building work, said in a prepared statement.

“They bring a wealth of local knowledge. They know us as a client and they know our business, so that’s a huge plus,” he said.

The last major building project related to sciences at Bates came in 1990 when an addition to the Carnegie Science Hall doubled its size, adding laboratories, classrooms and common spaces as well as the Ladd Planetarium.

It is directly across Campus Avenue from the mostly empty site where the new building is planned.

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This lot on Campus Avenue is where Bates College plans to erect a new science building, across the street from its Carnegie Science Hall. (Steve Collins/Sun Journal)

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