By Abby Vander Graaff
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
LARAMIE — As the 2021-22 academic year begins winding down and University of Wyoming students switch out their pencils for diplomas, school administrators continue to set their sights on the future.
The campus has seen multiple new building projects over the past few years, with the most recent being a new $100 million Science Initiative Building.
Located near 9th and Lewis streets, the 153,000-square-foot complex will house a variety of entry and upper-level science courses.
The UW Science Initiative began in 2014 when members of the science and business community endorsed a plan to improve education and research opportunities, according to a press release. Construction on the building started in 2018.
Built with money from the state, the facility is designed to emphasize hands-on learning. Instead of sitting in a lecture hall, students will gather around tables. The building also will house a variety of scientific equipment that can be used for research and education.
“It demonstrates the investment made by our elected leaders, (and their) commitment to state facilities in providing great programs, particularly in the STEM areas,” said UW spokesperson Chad Baldwin.
The building is expected to be in full use during the upcoming fall semester once furniture and equipment can be installed.
Around the time work on the Science Initiative Building comes to a close, another highly anticipated project is scheduled to begin.
The university plans to finally break ground this fall on a pair of new residence halls located West of 15th Street.
The south hall will be built at the intersection with Willett Drive, and the north hall at the intersection with Lewis Street.
Interior and exterior design plans for the project have been approved, and the $250 million for the project is secured through bonding, Baldwin said. The university is waiting on final construction planning documents.
The project also will include a new dining facility attached to the north residence hall, and a parking garage will be located along Ivinson Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. The 375 permitted parking spaces will make up for a loss of parking outside the Wyoming Union and are expected to be completed in January 2023.
“The residence halls demonstrate a clear statement from the Board of Trustees that residential living will continue to be a big part of our student experience,” Baldwin said. “We’re going to have that on-campus, in-person experience for students and that’s the foundation upon which our enrollment will be built in the future.”
Providing enough on-campus living space for students hasn’t been a problem for the university, especially with decreased admission rates brought on by the pandemic, but the current facilities are outdated. The new residence halls and dining center are intended to replace those old facilities.
Though the administration hasn’t made any final decisions, the university may demolish some buildings and keep others such as Crane Hall as a housing overflow area, Baldwin said.
The College of Law building also could see an expansion come fall if the Board of Trustees grants the project its final approval. A decision could come on that next month.
“It’s been a pretty collaborative effort all the way,” Baldwin said of the recent projects. “We really do have world-class facilities and world-class researchers and teachers to use them.”