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Construction begins on final engineering building

Construction began recently this summer on the final building in the Science and Engineering Quad (SEQ), which will house the bioengineering and chemical engineering departments.

This building will be the fourth in the SEQ, joining the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2) and the Jen-Hsun Huang School of Engineering Center and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering. It is expected to be completed in summer 2014 and is currently called “Building 4.”

According to the Stanford Department of Project Management, the new building will most closely resemble Y2E2. The energy efficiency for the two buildings will be almost identical. For example both will feature solar technology and natural light. Building 4 will connect with both Y2E2 and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering on its basement level.

The new building will focus on providing collaborative laboratory space for two relatively new disciplines while creating unparalleled undergraduate laboratory facilities.

“The new building will have teaching laboratories that are so far beyond what we have now that it will really be wonderful for undergraduates,” said chemical engineering professor Curtis Frank, chair of the faculty committee devoted to the building’s construction. “This will be the best teaching laboratory at the University.”

While Frank is a faculty member in chemical engineering, his primary research is in materials sciences, and many other members of his department have interdisciplinary research. The layout of the SEQ and Building 4 allows for this collaborative approach to engineering.

“This building is right next door to Y2E2, and there are a number of faculty, including myself, that have ties to civil and environmental engineering,” he said. “At the same time, about a third of the faculty do very similar research to that which goes on in bioengineering.”

Frank confirmed that a donor gave funds toward the naming rights for Building 4 but is currently remaining anonymous. The yet-unnamed Building 4 is designed to embody the Stanford Challenge, a five-year plan articulating Stanford’s commitment to grappling with global problems.

The building will be a physical manifestation of the leap in the recognition for these two fairly new disciplines. Currently, the 50-year-old chemical engineering program is spread among three different facilities. Having a designated home is important for establishing larger undergraduate programs, and the administration expects dramatic growth in bioengineering.

Frank described much of the research facilities for current chemical engineering students as having been “carved out of a stock room and a loading dock.” Bioengineering also sees a similar need for space.

“Bioengineering has a very small number of undergraduates, but the expectation is that the undergraduate department is going to be very large,” Frank said. “Bioengineering is going to be a major attractor for the University.”

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