Biosciences building construction approved


Iowa State has gained approval to build a new Advance Teaching and Research Building and perform a major renovation of Bessey Hall. The projects are estimated to cost a combined $80 million.

Angelica Lawson

As enrollment continues to rise at Iowa State, so does the frequency and cost of new construction.

The Board of Regents approved the request for two new building projects at Iowa State. Construction of the Advanced Teaching and Research Building and the renovation of Bessey Hall are set to begin next spring.

The architects have been called in and are designing the buildings and their details. Once this is complete they will prepare the construction documents and present the project for bid. The projects will be set for bidding come December or January. Once the construction company has been chosen, construction will immediately follow.

The total project budget is $80 million. The ATRB is expected to cost $52 million, $22 million from state appropriations, $20 million from Iowa State and $10 million from a private gift. Bessey Hall is expected to cost $28 million — these funds will come from state appropriations. 

“[The buildings] will really demonstrate the university’s and the state’s commitment to having state of the art facilities for our students,” said Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert. “You know at the end of the day it’s all about having a high quality learning environment for our students.”

The five-story ATRB will house the plant pathology and microbiology departments, along with portions of other departments. The building will be constructed at the corner of Stange Road and Pammel Drive, on the existing Industrial Education II building site.

The new state-of-the-art laboratories for research and education will be used by faculty and students. Classroom space and offices for the facility will also be incorporated into the ATRB, and a new green house complex will help provide state-of-the-art life sciences research opportunities.

“I think there’ll be great opportunities for students to work on research projects, grad student as part of their masters or doctoral degrees and undergraduate students who are working on undergraduate research projects with facility as well,” Wickert said. “You’ll see lab space in both buildings for research.” 

The ATRB project is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2018.

The Bessey Hall renovation will be a four-story addition to Bessey Hall. Undergraduate teaching and research labs will be incorporated. One floor will remain unfinished as shell space for future project developments.

The anticipated end date for construction is summer 2017, just in time for fall 2017 classes.

According to the project’s executive summary, demand has reached a point where it has exceeded the amount of space available for the growth of biosciences at Iowa State. The building projects are partially due to the increased enrollment in the bioscience fields. Bioscience enrollment has risen 27 percent in the last five years.

The need for professional staff and faculty has also increased. Within the next five years it has been projected that the bioscience personnel will increase by 24 percent.

“I want students to be excited. [ISU] President [Steven] Leath has made it a priority to enhance and improve the facilities of the university and to provide top notch facilities for students to learn and research to take place,” Wickert said.

The changes being made to campus should add more opportunities for the ISU students who are seeking careers in the STEM fields. Administrators hope creating these facilities with cutting edge technology will encourage higher enrollment, and ultimately benefit Iowa State as a whole.

“I want students to be excited about having some high quality space for their classes and labs in the biosciences,” Wickert said. “These new building will help [students] learn and then help them to be able to get the kinds of jobs they want to be able to have.”