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Duluth college breaks ground for science center

By Scott Carlson
Dolan Media Newswires

Minneapolis — Lake Superior College in Duluth has broken ground on a $12.1 million health and science center — a project that eventually will require general contractor Shaw-Lundquist Associates Inc. to excavate foundation space using explosives.

The new health and science center, scheduled for completion in September 2011, will be a 37,000-square-foot, single-story building, said Ben Anderson, project manager at St. Paul-based Shaw-Lundquist.

Blasting through the rocky surface is just one construction challenge for Shaw-Lundquist. Another is fulfilling LSC’s desire that the new building — which will house science labs and classrooms for the college’s nursing and allied science programs — meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards, Anderson said.

That would make it LSC’s second LEED building. Two years ago, its academic and student services building became the first green project, a college official said.

Because Lake Superior College officials want the new health and science center to be energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, Shaw-Lundquist will use construction materials from within 500 miles of the job site, Anderson said. Also, Shaw-Lundquist plans to recycle at least 75 percent of the construction material wastes from the project.

The fact that some tough construction lies ahead for the health and science center seems in character with the life of the project. Officials at LSC, which is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, said they have been pursuing this project for eight years.

This spring, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed a state bonding bill that included $9.3 million for LSC’s health and science center. But two previous times, the governor vetoed LSC’s request in state bonding bills he considered were too big, said Gary Kruchowski, a college spokesman.

This year, the LSC health and science center was among MnSCU’s top priority projects, Kruchowski said. LSC officials said there has been a severe shortage of classroom and lab space for their allied science and health programs.

“The impact on our campus is significant because a very large portion of our academic offerings are in the health-care arena,” Kruchowski said. “We have seven different academic programs that will be impacted one way or other.”

He estimated that about 40 percent of the college’s students take courses in health care and the sciences.

At its peak, the LSC health and science center project will employ about 100 construction workers, Anderson said.

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