Lehman College tops off new science building

Lehman College officials held an official topping out ceremony for the college’s new science building, joining with members of the borough’s city council delegation to thank them for providing funding for a rooftop greenhouse that will sit atop the $70 million project.

The ceremony, held on Thursday, October 28 next to the skeleton of the 69,000 square foot building that will house much of Lehman’s Chemistry and Biology programs, symbolically topped out the building: meaning that the highest beam has been hoisted into place. Scheduled for completion in 2012, the building represents the first of a three-phase project that will create “a campus within a campus” dedicated to the sciences, disciplines which have grown increasingly interconnected, school officials said.

The new building has green features such as solar heating technology, a rooftop greenhouse, and an artificial wetland in the courtyard incorporating native vegetation for wastewater treatment. It is expected to be CUNY’s first new building to win a LEED Gold Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“Our new science facility will truly stand as a reflection of the excellent work taking place in the Bronx, and positively impact the regional community as well,” said Lehman president Ricardo Fernandez, who is celebrating his 20th year in that role. Fernandez thanked City Council speaker Christine Quinn who was in attendance, as well as Councilman Joel Rivera, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, as well as a representative from Councilman Oliver Koppell, for providing funding for the building’s rooftop greenhouse. The greenhouse will expand the college’s teaching and research in the plant sciences.

Quinn said that she learned from former Speaker Peter Vallone that the City Council must be the steward of CUNY. She praised Vallone and former Speaker Gifford Miller as people who truly saw great value in the city’s public colleges.

“I’m so excited that the council played a pivotal part in making this project happen,” said Quinn. “By funding $1.5 million toward the first phase of this project, we are ensuring that future generations will be learning great science curriculum in a great state-of-the-art green building.”

Phase 2 of the project will include a second $120 million dollar building to house additional science programs, including physics, earth science and environmental studies. The third phase includes a rehabilitation of Lehman College’s Gillette Hall, which was built in the 1930s.

Others speaking at the ceremony included CUNY executive vice chancellor and chief opportating officer Allan Dobrin and vice chancellor for facilites planning, construction and research Iris Weinshall. Vice-chancellor for reasearch Gillian Small also attended.

“The nice thing about this is that it will allow all of the sciences to come together in one place,” Fernandez said. “Most research in the sciences today is done on an interdisciplinary basis. Right now, all of the different departments are spread out.”

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