College breaks ground on $32M science wing
A local college has kicked off a $32-million expansion and renovation of its science hall.
Aquinas College, a private Catholic school, began last week the construction project on the Albertus Magnus Hall of Science at its campus in Grand Rapids, at 1700 Fulton St. E.
The project is being funded by Aquinas’s $58-million capital campaign underway since 2014. The campaign was 60 percent funded by private donations until the college launched a public contributions phase last month. Since then, Aquinas has raised an additional 10 percent of its goal.
Kevin Quinn, president of Aquinas since July 1, said the expansion is all about the demand for careers in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines, or STEM.
“The groundbreaking of our new science building represents a vision to enhance the focus on STEM by investing in the jobs of tomorrow,” Quinn said. That’s what our $58-million Contributing to More campaign is all about — the future of Aquinas and the impact we can have on our community and the world.
“We’re grateful for our many friends and supporters who have showed their belief in the direction and vision of the college by supporting this project.”
The expansion of the science facility will include a new wing adjacent to the current building.
Once the addition is finished, operations will move into the new wing temporarily, while the existing facility closes for renovations.
When complete, the combined space will include modern, flexible laboratories, faculty and student research labs, collaborative student spaces and a three-story glass atrium.
Firms on the project
TowerPinkster, with offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, is handling the architecture and interior design.
Grand Rapids-based Pioneer Construction is the project’s contractor.
The science facility will house programs such as health science and geospatial techniques, as well as engineering in partnership with Western Michigan University, which the Business Journal reported on in May.
One of the goals of the capital campaign is to boost enrollment and fund new scholarships, professorships and other positions at the college.
After the science building doubles in space, Aquinas said it likely will need to hire an undetermined number of new faculty members to accommodate program growth.
As part of the capital campaign, Aquinas built a $4-million Our Lady Seat of Wisdom chapel scheduled to open this fall.
In recent years, Aquinas also has improved its athletic and recreational facilities, updated residence halls, made the college more environmentally sustainable, moved the college entrance from Robinson Road to Fulton Street and unveiled the St. Thomas Aquinas entry court, complete with a commissioned sculpture of the college’s namesake.
Aquinas College, founded in 1886, is a liberal arts school established by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids.
The wooded 117-acre campus is located in southeast Grand Rapids.
With nearly 2,000 students and 63 academic programs, Aquinas said it “emphasizes career preparation, leadership, service to others and lifelong learning.”