Austin College president Marjorie Hass welcomed trustees, distinguished alumni, and other guests at a June 3 groundbreaking ceremony for the IDEA Center, the Sherman, Texas, college’s new science and technology complex.
Twelve years in the planning, the 103,000 s.f. Center will emphasize breaking down boundaries between disciplines, housing the departments of physics, chemistry, biology, environmental studies, math, and computer science in one facility. A centerpiece of the new academic building is a domed observatory, with a 24” telescope that will be among the best among the country’s liberal arts institutions.
The IDEA Center’s name, an acronym for Inquiry, Discovery, Entrepreneurship, and Access, defines its mission. Professor Steve Goldsmith, Austin’s Dean of Sciences noted how the physical proximity of departments will support opportunities for cross-disciplinary undergraduate research. Having people, facilities, and equipment in one location “facilitates the kind of interactions that make the whole scientific process more meaningful and more productive.”
The IDEA Center will embody science in practice with the integration of sustainable strategies, including solar shading and a highly energy-efficient building envelope. The project, designed by Shepley Bulfinch in association with Page Southerland Page, will pursue LEED Silver certification.
The Center is scheduled to open in 2013.