Due to the unsafe seismic condition of the U Building, the entire Natural Sciences Division has been relocated to Parking Lot 5A, which has been refitted with 36 newly built units including classrooms, laboratories, and faculty offices, and has been renamed the “Science Village”Â
According to reports prepared by the Facilities Services Department, the temporary new facilities are a result of the U Building Abandonment and Relocations Projects, an $8.5 million project being headed by facilities services in order relocate all divisions housed in the U Building until it can demolished and replaced with a structure that is seismically safe and up to code. The Natural Sciences Division was selected to be moved to the 44,000 square-foot area previously known as Parking Lot 5A. Located at corner of Bonnie Avenue and Del Mar Boulevard, the lot is now home to 36 newly constructed, air-conditioned, modular buildings.
According to the Dean of Natural Sciences David Douglass, the newly constructed Science Village will be a temporary home to two-thirds of the natural sciences classes until the U Building can be replaced. Geology and physics classes will remain in the E Building.
Even thought the new location is temporary, Douglass is enthusiastic about the division’s new location. “The facilities here are much more updated, the hoods are updated and the gas lines are custom to the way we teach,”Â Douglass said. “I think students and staff will be happy with the new facilities and the labs. They’re not so pretty on the outside, but they’re really functional and well designed on the inside.”Â
Teachers such as assistant instructor Valerie Foster and Joe Conner, a biology teacher, are finding the new location as a pleasant change.
“Chemistry teachers were on the third floor and biology teachers were on the fourth floor,” Foster said. “Now we are all in the same room, and we can potentially collaborate and figure out what’s going on in each others’ worlds a little better. Ultimately that will help our students.”Â
“I see the change as potentially much better,”Â said Conner. “It still has bugs to work out in the electronics, but once all the glitches are worked out it will be good for the students. For the faculty, a change in atmosphere is always good for the creative juices.”Â
Students waiting outside the Science Village for their classes to start noted that the new location has some problems. Most of them agreed that there are not enough shaded areas to escape the heat while they wait for class, the air-conditioning in some of the buildings is not working, and some of the new buildings are having problems with ants.
All agreed, however, that they feel safer being at a new location. “Everything is a lot cleaner and there’s a lot more space”Â said Jenny Le-Nghiem, a chemistry 1A student. “There is an ant problem, but that can be fixed with time. The earthquake hazards in the U Building are a lot more dangerous than ants.”Â