Lehigh Valley

Lafayette College breaks ground on new science center

EASTON, Pa. - A new addition to Lafayette College's campus in Easton will attract students from across the country for years to come, according to school officials.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday for the new Rockwell integrated Sciences Center. Once completed, the building should help attract 400 additional students, which will mean hiring 40 additional faculty over the next eight years.

It will also be the hub for science, technology, engineering, and math majors.

Crews have been working hard on the campus. Open space in the Anderson Courtyard will be the science center's home.

"$75 million, five-story building that will be one of the most modern, energy-efficient science buildings on any campus, anywhere in the United States," said Mark Eyerly, vice president of communications for Lafayette.

The building is so efficient it will even collect rainwater to be reused in the cooling tower. The larger goal is to have a lot of collaboration of ideas among students on campus.

Officials said the building is a necessary step for Lafayette to stay ahead of the curve in science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines, also known as STEM. The building will also attract more students to STEM fields.

"The whole idea of the building is to try and promote the discovery that occurs at the intersection of disciplines, where computer science and biology for example are teaming up to make incredible advances in healthcare," added Eyerly.

The big challenge is making this next piece fit into the entire Lafayette puzzle without changing too much of the landscape.

"On the courtyard side, it will only be three stories high, so very similar to the buildings around it," said Eyerly, "but it presents an interesting challenge from a traditional groundbreaking approach."

Part of the interesting approach is using explosives to blast down and create an area for the first two floors, which means the college is literally going to start the project off with a bang. Instead of a ribbon-cutting for the event, officials pushed a plunger to set off the first of many underground explosions.

The building is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019.

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