As Marian University in Fond du Lac sought to improve its campus by expanding and renovating its two-story science building, its goal was to create a facility that not only attracts new students and faculty by dramatically enhancing the education experience, but also by providing a space where students want to be.
It accomplished that and more with the Dr. Richard and Leslie Ridenour Science Center.
“The building was designed to engage campus foot traffic with a variety of carefully implemented entrances, corridors and landscaping,” according to Eppstein Uhen Architects, which designed the project. “The building’s engineering systems ensure it meets Marian University’s sustainability goals as a high-performance facility.”
The Science Center project involved a 30,000-square-foot remodel and a 17,000-square-foot addition. The new addition houses eight state-of-the-art laboratory spaces that are highly adaptable for classroom instruction and research about subjects that include chemistry, biology, forensics and ecology. It also features open collaborative and “intentional collision” areas and several active learning classrooms.
A two-story atrium allows natural light to flood into the space, encouraging occupants to gather while allowing maximum transparency between buildings, Eppstein Uhen states in its project description.
The $12 million project began in August 2017 and was completed a year later. Although the primary focus is on science, technology, engineering and math, all Marian students have an opportunity to take classes in and use the building. Health care and science majors have access to the cutting-edge equipment they need to train to be leaders in their respective fields, the university states.
Chris Meyer, director of systems integration for C.D. Smith Construction, the construction manager on the project, said a tight schedule and completing the renovation and expansion on the university’s academic schedule added to the effort’s complexity. In addition, the building is more than 50 years old and there was little documentation available about its original construction.
When it was completed, however, the project team took great pride in the fact that it’s difficult to tell where the old portion of the building ends and the new one begins.
Meyer said the project also was rewarding because of the community involvement through Marian University and the collaboration among the project team members.
“As a design-build project, that collaboration made for a much better design, a development that is more efficient and a better final product,” he said.
The building is named for Dr. Richard “Dick” Ridenour, who served as the university’s 11th president, and his wife, Leslie. Dick Ridenour, a retired U.S. Navy Medical Corp. rear admiral, served as the university’s president from 1997 to 2006 and is now a Marian president emeritus.
“We feel honored to have this building dedicated in our name,” he said in an article published by the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “Leslie and I always felt at home at Marian University. This is a great university and this addition to campus will enhance the learning experience for students.”
In addition to C.D. Smith and Eppstein Uhen Architects, the project team also included Pierce Engineers, Muermann Engineering, Muza Sheet Metal and J.F. Ahern, which did the fire protection, HVAC and plumbing work.