In 2014, the University of Kansas launched a campus master plan to put our aspirations as a flagship research university into physical form. Key to that plan was the development of our Central District into a new hub of education and research that would address urgent needs and position us for excellence for decades to come.
Two years later, the blueprints and renderings have morphed to concrete and steel. Construction crews have made tremendous progress throughout the Central District, which includes new student housing, parking, a student union, a utility plant and a new Integrated Science Building that will continue to transform education and research for the next generation of KU scholars.
The Integrated Science Building takes center stage this Thursday when we host a “topping out” ceremony with the Central District development team and construction crew. The event will include a short program and conclude with the ceremonial “raising of the final beam” atop the building.
Once complete, the Integrated Science Building will comprise 280,000 square feet of space for teaching, learning and interdisciplinary research in chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physics, molecular biosciences and related fields.
For our students, this means new classrooms, new ways of interacting with instructors and classmates, and close integration of their undergraduate studies with cutting-edge research activity. For our researchers, it means a state-of-the-art facility designed to spawn multidisciplinary research and be an anchoring point for collaboration among KU’s research centers and campuses.
More broadly, the Integrated Science Building will benefit our entire university by helping us recruit new scholars, pursue new funding opportunities, foster technology-based startups and enhance the visibility of KU nationally.
I’ve spoken often about our mission and our aspirations to be recognized among the nation’s top public research universities. This Integrated Science Building gives us the resources to continue that mission and achieve those aspirations like never before.
Of course, this building is just one in a series of projects that, together, have transformed the way we teach and do science at KU. In recent years, we’ve built a new School of Pharmacy. We’ve expanded our Engineering complex. And construction continues on our Earth, Energy & Environment Center in Lawrence, as well as the new Health Education Building at KU Medical Center. Together, these projects are transforming the physical campus, and more importantly, the way we educate leaders and make discoveries in STEM fields.
When you look at the Integrated Science Building – and the entire Central District site – it’s easy to get lost in the size of the project. But I want us to remember that this project is not about a physical building. Rather, it is about the students who will study, learn and collaborate within the walls of this building so they can become leaders in their fields. It’s about the faculty and staff who will educate these students and make discoveries that save lives, grow the economy and improve the world. And it’s about all of you who help us fulfill our mission through your work, each and every day.
Thank you for helping us transform our university.