Yale Science Building reaches for new heights

The upsides of the new Yale Science Building are starting to show.

First, there is the physical upside. On Jan. 31, campus leaders gathered to mark the “topping off” of the building — the point where construction crews reached the highest spot on the seven-level structure.

The celebration included a signing ceremony in which President Peter Salovey, Vice Provost for Research Peter Schiffer, members of the building committee, and other campus leaders wrote their names on the girder that will be hoisted to the apex of the building.

By signing this beam, we’re symbolizing our unity, our collaboration, in the effort to build on our strengths in the sciences, to improve areas that must be improved, and to achieve great and new heights in research and innovation,” Salovey told the gathering of more than 100 faculty members, students, and staff. “We’re signing together because we will do this together.”

The Yale Science Building is slated for completion in late 2019. It will be home to the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB), as well as part of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry (MBB), the Quantitative Biology Institute and certain physics labs.

The building will have state-of-the-art imaging technology, aquatic and insect labs, a rooftop greenhouse, a quantitative biology center, physics labs, and a 500-seat lecture hall. The building’s classrooms, labs, and research support spaces will enable students and faculty to explore the evolution of plants, disease vectors of insects, and atomic, molecular, and optical physics.

This is obviously a very happy moment,” said Anna Pyle, the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and professor of chemistry, who chairs the building committee. Pyle emphasized the collaborative potential of the new science hub, noting, “This has grown into an effort to build interdisciplinary programs in many different areas. The change is real.”

That’s where the building’s other upside comes into focus. Campus officials expect the new structure to elevate cross-disciplinary science research and teaching at Yale.

Directly or indirectly, in this building biologists, physicists, chemists, engineers, mathematicians and others will find ways to collaborate, both in educating our students and in helping solve problems that are vexing humans all over our planet,” Salovey said. “This can only happen in facilities that support the talents of the people engaged in these activities.”

The New Haven firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects designed the outer shell of the new building, which rises at the site of the former J.W. Gibbs Laboratory. Stantec, located in Hamden, Conn., is the architect of record and designed all other elements of the new building.

Yale’s investment in STEM research and education in recent years is transforming Science Hill, with new teaching labs for chemistry, physics, and biology, and common spaces that bring together faculty and students from across the scientific disciplines. These investments include the renovation of Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, the renovation of Wright Lab for physics, and new teaching labs beneath the Becton Center at the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science. In addition, Yale has invested in additional faculty for computer science and data science.

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