Construction Set to Begin on Froiland Science Complex

Architect's rendering of the Froiland Science Center

Construction on Augustana’s new 125,000-square-foot Froiland Science Complex will begin later this month, marking the start of the largest and most complex building endeavor in the College’s 154-year history.

When construction begins on Augustana’s new 125,000-square-foot Froiland Science Complex later this month, it will mark the start of the largest and most complex building endeavor in the College’s 154-year history.

Phase one of the project includes a 41,000-square-foot addition to the existing Gilbert Science Center, located at the corner of Summit Avenue and 33rd Street. Trees were removed from the site Thursday in preparation for foundation work that will begin in the coming weeks.

Phase two will feature a complete renovation of the existing facility, originally dedicated in 1966 and named in honor of Gerhard A. Gilbert, a South Dakota-based businessman who served as mayor of Watertown, S.D., from 1948-1954.

When complete, the new complex will be named in honor of Dr. Sven Froiland, a longtime biology professor and a champion of scientific research at the College. Gilbert’s name will be remembered by naming the west wing of the building the Gilbert Wing.

“This is an unprecedented time in Augustana’s history. For decades, our faculty and students have discovered and tracked new frontiers in scientific research. We’re certain this new facility, built around a core that supports collaborative research, will give way to even more hands-on exploration and ultimately, create the solutions we need to build a better tomorrow.”
– Rob Oliver, President

Designed by SmithGroupJJR and TSP, the $35 million project will feature a new, high-fidelity nursing simulation center, multiple technology-rich “classatories,” rooms mixing traditional classroom elements and laboratory components, and state-of-the-art research areas for faculty researchers and their student collaborators in areas such as physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. The new laboratories will allow students to "learn their craft in settings that resemble what they will encounter in professional research environments," said Dr. Eric Wells, associate professor of physics.

Many of the new classrooms will feature designs that allow for student-centered, rather than instructor-centered, teaching methods, enabling faculty to more easily build “active learning” philosophies into their curriculum – a proven teaching method that pairs group work and hands-on, problem-solving exercises with traditional lecture.

The new facility will also feature glass-enclosed laboratories, designs College officials say will put “science on display” for all students and further enhance the culture of research that exists on the campus today.

Along with new teaching and research spaces, the Froiland Complex will include numerous open study areas for students near faculty offices along with new collaborative areas for computer science, physics, mathematics and chemistry students and faculty.

The project comes at a key time for the College’s Natural Sciences Division.

For the 2013-14 academic year, natural science majors represented 36 percent of all majors at Augustana – up nearly 10 percent from a decade ago. College officials cite a number of reasons for the growth, including an increased demand for science professionals in health care and other industries, a growing interest in the natural and health sciences among high school students, and Augustana’s reputation for preparing graduates who are in high demand by employers and graduate schools across the nation.

The new facility will open in December 2015.

See the latest progress via our live web cam and photo gallery.