President Gayle E. Hutchinson proudly revealed the first images of the physical sciences replacement building at California State University, Chico this week, with a formal ground breaking planned for fall 2018. Scheduled to open in fall 2020, the new building will support the highest quality science education, with state-of-the-art teaching facilities and equipment. This $101 million facility will advance CSU, Chico’s role as a leader within the North State and across the 23-campus CSU system.

The new science building will be constructed just east of Langdon Hall, north of Meriam Library and south of Big Chico Creek, replacing the existing Siskiyou Hall. The building will provide advanced teaching labs for the sciences, enhanced hands-on learning and real-world research opportunities, increased opportunity for cross-disciplinary partnerships and greater campus exposure to science.

“The design for the new physical science building is a creative blend of historic Chico State and contemporary elements that are timeless,” Hutchinson said. “The exterior breezeway and large windows invite campus and the community to engage in science. And, that is exactly what we want as we host thousands of school children at the new and improved hands-on science lab.”

The new building will support work made possible by Chico State’s recent $4.2 million, five-year grant from the US Department of Education. The Hispanic-Serving Institution STEM grant supports agriculture, natural sciences, and engineering, computer science and construction management students who identify as low-income, first generation or Hispanic.

Additionally, it further makes STEM a central feature of the CSU, Chico campus by affording students and faculty new opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Its proximity to the engineering buildings and central campus locale will enhance opportunities for interdisciplinary education and research.

“Chico State students and faculty will find the building design energetic and interactive, providing an environment that is supportive of applied learning and research,” Hutchinson said.

Rendering of the new physical science building showing how it opens to a grassy quad area.

A rendering of the new physical science building was unveiled this week. Formal ground breaking is planned for fall 2018, and the building is scheduled to open in fall 2020.

When it opens to occupants in fall 2020, the 110,200-square-foot building will include space for chemistry, physics, geological science and science education labs, as well as active-learning classrooms, synergy between interior learning spaces and outdoor classrooms, graduate research studios, a dean’s suite, dozens of faculty offices, and administrative and support areas.

David Hassenzahl, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said the new building will serve as a science hub for the North State.

“In addition to providing the highest quality education and research opportunities for our students, it will provide science on display, a hands-on laboratory for elementary school visits, and spaces throughout the building where faculty and students can collaborate and create,” he said.

The hands-on lab is a facility pioneered at CSU, Chico and replicated around the CSU system. It brings K-12 students from around the region to campus, where they work with University students to explore physics, biology, chemistry and environmental science.

The new building also will hold collaborative spaces, both indoors and outdoors, including a central role for the Gateway Science Museum and inspirational science showcases. Additionally, environmental science and science education will have classrooms that open toward Big Chico Creek where students can engage directly with the campus environment, moving seamlessly between classroom and field learning. This will support projects exploring water-related issues upstream to the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and downstream to the Sacramento River.

Designed by the San Francisco architect firm SmithGroupJJR, the building’s construction will be led by DPR Construction out of Sacramento.

The project will be as sustainable as it is visually stunning. The University will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, and the project design team has been working closely with the University’s Institute for Sustainable Development to identify additional ways to incorporate sustainable goals that take savings beyond requirements. Innovative features will include shading and sunscreens that minimize energy use while maximizing daylight, right-sizing laboratory equipment loads, and embracing other energy- and water-saving measures.

The building is primarily financed by the CSU System-wide Revenue Bond program, with a small contribution from campus-designated capital reserves. It will replace all functions located in the current Physical Science Building behind Ayres Hall, allowing those spaces to be renovated and repurposed in future projects. Siskiyou Hall will be demolished in summer 2018 to make way for the new building.

For more information, contact David Hassenzahl at 530-898-6121.

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About California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico is the second-oldest campus in the 23-member CSU system, the nation’s largest public university system. Founded in 1887, Chico State enrolls approximately 17,500 students and offers more than 230 undergraduate and graduate programs through its seven colleges and five schools. The campus is consistently ranked as one of the best regional public universities in the Western United States, and is the only CSU campus to have earned a favorable rating in all five categories of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scoreboard, which rates universities on affordability and value. Its mission includes a broad commitment to environmental sustainability, public service and community engagement throughout the 12-county North State region where the campus is located. The University became a federal Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2015.