Finer points of Stoffer Science Hall renovation becoming clear

Travis Perry

With the final decision-making stages setting in, Stoffer Science Hall is ready for its massive renovation, and the possibility of a newly remodeled science facility within the next three years is very likely.

Early on in the planning phases for Stoffer, ideas from merely remodeling all four floors to a complete tear-down and rebuilding of current facilities were tossed around, but ultimately these ideas were either deemed too drastic or not enough.

The idea for moving the math department out of Morgan and into Stoffer had been toyed with for a short while. Unfortunately, budget constraints are the deciding factor behind most building ideas. At this time the plans call for an overhaul of all floors, as well as the building of an addition that will be one-third the size of the current building. All this will cost approximately $14.6-$15 million.

“It is [a work in progress], although we’re coming down closer and closer to final decision points. By now we have defined what laboratories are going to go in the building and where they’re going to be,” said Jerry B. Farley, Washburn University’s president.

In order to make Stoffer the best possible facility for all departments, Farley said faculty members were consulted and worked with in order to make it a state-of-the-art building that meets the needs of faculty as well as students while staying within the budget.

The current goal is for students to be occupying the new addition by the fall semester of 2007, and with the total project to be done by spring 2008. The next task that needs to be accomplished is to have the final blueprints drawn up which will then be used to receive bids from contractors interested in the job. Once bids have been received, the plan must be brought before the Board of Regents in order to approve finalization of the project. Afterwards, contracts are signed, work is started and hopefully finished in about 12 months.

When other facilities were examined to get an idea of what modifications should be made to Stoffer, the goal was to find something unique and to top it.

“We think we will have [a science hall] that will be state-of-the-art as of the time we build it. We like to think it will be better than any of the other ones in the state, and if we’ve done a good job it will be better than the one we visited in Missouri. It will be a premiere facility,” said Farley.

The one major hurdle that will have to be dealt with is the fact that much of the remodeling of the current building will be done while it is still in use during the semester.

“It’s going to be messy, it’s going to be noisy and it’s going to be dirty. People will be working under some difficult conditions,” said Farley.

Students will have to deal with closed stairwells, blocked hallways and limited classrooms, but it will ultimately be for the best.

“One of the strengths of Washburn has for many years been science. This is a project that we think will only enhance our reputation, it will give us an added capacity for more students, [and] it will give us up-to-date technology,” said Farley. “We think it’s going to be a great addition to the campus.”