BYU announces new Life Sciences Building, will tear down Cluff, Widtsoe buildings

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Workers will soon begin demolition of the Benjamin Cluff Building in preparation to build a new 265,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building on the south side of campus.

Contractors are preparing to begin construction on the new building next spring and scheduled to complete it in late 2014. The building, which will serve as a teaching and research space for the College of Life Sciences, will also replace the Widtsoe Building, which is also destined for the wrecking ball when the new building opens.

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Artist's rendering of the new Life Sciences Building, viewed from the southwest.
The Life Sciences Building will front 800 North and include a three-level, 250-stall parking structure. It will have a total of five levels, and will be constructed where the Benjamin Cluff Building is currently located. University spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said that demolition work on the Cluff Building will begin by end of this semester.

“At this point, a groundbreaking has not been planned for the Life Sciences Building,” she said.

University officials said in a public record the parking structure will be primarily for faculty and staff. Additional general student parking may be created in the lot across the street that is now reserved for faculty.

“The new Life Sciences Building will serve as a gateway for the south end of the BYU campus,” said Brian Evans, BYU’s chief financial officer and  administrative vice president. “It will be a welcoming and inviting building and will include a center corridor that will lead students directly up the hill to campus.”

According to a BYU news release, the new facility will include 16 teaching labs, three auditoriums, four conference rooms and more than 70 academic offices.

“The life sciences are a very fast and changing area of science, and the current facilities were built for different kinds of activities that are very different from what is done today,” said Rodney Brown, dean of the College of Life Sciences. “This is especially true with regards to students and learning.”

All faculty and labs currently located in the Cluff and Widtsoe buildings will be moved to the new building. Jenkins said the Widtsoe Building will remain in use until the completion of the new facility. After completion, the Widtsoe Building will be razed.

Brown said the new building will include “much better facilities for learning, studying and interacting, not to mention everything will be more modern.”

The square footage of the Cluff and Widtsoe buidlings equals the amount of space in the new structure. The Cluff Building opened in 1954 and the nine-story Widtsoe Building was completed in 1968. Public records show that because there is no net gain in new building area, the University did not propose to increase the number of faculty or students.

“What we’re doing is upgrading the facilities, but the goal is not to add to the space on campus,” Brown said. “It’s to modernize.”

The project will reroute sections of Campus Drive and 500 East, which are both private roads maintained by BYU. Project plans also include pedestrian paths to campus and landscaping that transitions to the duck pond down the hill.

The BYU news release also mentioned a 30,000-square-foot addition to the Bean Museum that was approved by the BYU Board of Trustees. This addition will be constructed on the east side of the museum.

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