Board approves first phase of engineering building

Building to be completed by August 2010

The Marquette board of trustees approved a proposal for the first phase of the new College of Engineering building Thursday, with construction anticipated to begin this spring.

The facility is part of the Discovery Learning Complex, which is expected to cost $100 million to complete.

The $35 million first phase will be a five-story, 100,000square-

The College of Engineering's planned $100 million Discovery Learning Complex includes a five-story structure (above) in phase one, which has been formally approved by the university board of trustees.
The College of Engineering's planned $100 million Discovery Learning Complex includes a five-story structure (above) in phase one, which has been formally approved by the university board of trustees.

foot facility featuring various new laboratories — including a two-story materials and structural testing laboratory — as well as student common space and offices, according to a press release from the Office of Marketing and Communication.

“We feel wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” said Michael Switzenbaum, executive associate dean of the College of Engineering. “This is an incredible vote of confidence the trustees have given the university.”

The building could be ready for use by August 2011, said University Architect Tom Ganey.

The university has already received $25 million in actual donations to fund the first phase and expects to receive another $10 million in pledged donations over the next two years to cover the rest of the cost, Switzenbaum said.

Initial plans had the entirety of the Discovery Learning Complex built at once, but slow fundraising because of the economic recession caused the university to break construction into phases, he said.

The payment schedule for the pledged money assures the university will have $35 million in actual donations to cover the cost of the first phase by the time the building is opened, Switzenbaum said, “even if we don’t raise another dime.”

But Switzenbaum said he was confident fundraising efforts would be successful.

Eventually, the first phase of construction will be joined with an additional 150,000-square-foot facility with more laboratories, classrooms and offices.

There is no anticipated start date for construction on the second phase because fundraising is uncertain, Ganey said.

“I’m not concerned, (but) we’re in a very tough economy, so it’s not going as quickly as we’d hope,” he said. “Moving forward at this time allows us to get some of the facilities up and running … and stay active in a tough economy.”

The phase one proposal was well received by the board of trustees, said the Rev. James Flaherty, who sits on the board and is rector of Marquette’s Jesuit community.

“The board was enthusiastic with going ahead with the project as it was presented by the administration,” Flaherty said. “It’s a step forward for Marquette.”

Flaherty credited the building to College of Engineering Dean Stan Jaskolski, who will retire in May 2010.

“He’s really been the spearhead and the visionary,” he said. “It’s a tribute for all his work.”