Students, faculty and administrators gathered in Hoyt Auditorium to get a look at architectural plans for the new Biomedical Engineering and Optics building on March 3. The architects who designed it were on hand to show off the new structure and answer questions about the design and impact that it will have on the university. The new building will house the biomedical engineering department and a large part of the Optics department. The architects envision the building serving as a place where experts in BME, Optics and other fields can meet to share ideas and expand the realms of science. At a cost of $30 million, the price for the construction isn’t cheap. Yet it is hoped that this building will revitalize the area between Carlson Library and Wilmot. The two small buildings that currently occupy the site will be demolished. The plan calls for paving over the Wilmot parking lot and turning the entire area into the science and engineering quadrangle. Sophomore Sam Frommer thought the presentation was informative. “You really got an impression of how the building is going to be like,” Frommer said. “I especially liked the idea of the Engineering Quad.””I thought that the proposal was really professional,” senior Audrey Stewart said. “But what really struck me was that the architects are trying to use the building to foster a sense of community, and the students who will be using this building prefer to be isolated in their labs.”However, some concerns about the building were raised. The building is to serve as a gateway between the River Campus and the Medical Center. The center passage of the building will serve as a passageway by which members of the UR community can easily pass between the two campuses. Many faculty there mentioned worries about security and noise issues with having large amounts of people passing though the building. Some wondered about the environmental impact the building will have on its area. “It’s pretty much impossible to ignore the environmental impact of this building,” Stewart said. Stewart is a member of UR Grassroots. “We feel the campus has a chance to become a nationally recognized leader in environmental building technology,” Stewart said. Construction is expected to begin in early 2005 with a ground breaking ceremony to be held in October when UR will host the annual meeting of the Optical Society of America. UR is still working on financing the project. So far Charles Munnerlyn and the Whitaker Foundation have both contributed $3 million towards the project. Additional reporting by Cyrus Levesque. Pisarski can be reached email@example.com.
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