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Discovery Learning Complex progress report

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The Discovery Learning Complex is still in its construction process as the new engineering building at Marquette. Photo by Emily Waller / emily.waller@marquette.edu

Marquette is moving closer to the awaited opening of the Discovery Learning Complex, the College of Engineering’s new facility. But while physical progress of the building is running smoothly, funding for the project has remained mostly stagnant.

Major construction of the DLC is on course to wrap up by the end of the year, according to University Architect Tom Ganey.

“The whole project is on schedule,” Ganey said. “And by the end of the calendar year, we’re anticipating the DLC to be completely enclosed, which will allow us to focus on the interior.”

Since the remaining spaces being worked on will be indoors, Ganey said the coming winter months will not affect how construction progresses.

“By August of 2011, the first two floors of the DLC will be open,” Ganey said.

These two floors are mainly comprised of classrooms and labs, Ganey said. An engineering materials lab and two “innovation labs” are key features of the DLC that reside on these base floors.

But following the partial opening in August, much work will remain.

The DLC is being built in two phases, the first being the initial construction of 115,000 square feet of classrooms and laboratories. The second phase — building offices and other engineering school space — will complete the 250,000 square-foot DLC.

There is no “set starting date” for the second phase since it is contingent upon the completion of the first phase, Ganey said.

In addition to the physical work that remains, securing the necessary funds will also take time, said Robert Bishop, dean of the College of Engineering.

“The funding (for the DLC) has been challenging in these uncertain economic times,” Bishop said. “We are still seeking funding. The job is not yet done.”

The university had secured an initial $70 million for the $100 million structure before breaking ground in March. At the ground-breaking ceremony, University President the Rev. Robert A. Wild spoke about “proceeding with caution” with construction of the DLC in a recovering economy.

Now, funding efforts for the DLC are still coming up short, but it’s not due to a lack of effort.

“We are working with our many alumni, supporters and friends around the country on (funding) Phase II of the project,” Bishop said.  “I have traveled from coast to coast with stops in between to tell the story of discovery learning.”

The future use of the Olin Engineering Center, the current home for the College of Engineering, is also uncertain, said Art Scheuber, vice president of administration.

“There is a committee that looks at the use of space on campus called the Space and Infrastructure Committee,” Scheuber said. “They will review the best use of that facility once it becomes available. They will also look at what updating is needed within the building and what best fits into that facility.”

In the meantime, Bishop remains encouraged by the daily activity at the DLC construction site.

“It is very exciting to see the DLC take shape and begin to show its character,” Bishop said. “I tour the building often and am always surprised at the amazing progress being made.”

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