New Science Center now open

February 2, 2013

By Chris Vannarath

A view of the front of the new Math and Science Center, the building is LEED certified.

A view of the front of the new Math and Science Center, the building is LEED certified.

Opening its doors for the first time to students this semester is the new Science Math Central Plant (SMCP) building on the Kentfield campus. College of Marin began breaking ground for the new 70,000 square-foot building in mid-September of 2009 in the upper quadrant of the campus. The SMCP budget of $52.2 million was a part of the $249.5 million Measure C bond passed in 2004. The new SMCP building was to better help teachers and students with more resources and better labs.

The Science Math and Central Plant building will host a multitude of classes once it is fully completed. The facility will house classes for Science, Math and Nursing programs, an IT department, and a central power plant. Classes such as anthropology, taught by Kathaeryne Soluri, geology, taught by Steven Newton, several math classes, computer skill classes and nursing classes will all be held in this one building. Kathaeryne Soluri, a part-time teacher here at College of Marin since 2008, is very impressed with the new SMPC building.

“I’m just so happy for all the great support that we had from the maintenance crew and all the staff members. From helping with trouble-shooting to helping getting everything geared up for this semester. I am very impressed with how fast the Science and Math building was built. Everything in this building is very impressive, from the lighting and how well built the classrooms are,” said Soluri.

Dianne Faw, the Administrator Assistant of the Dean of Math and Science, loves the new building. She especially loves the lighting inside the new facility. “Compared to the old science center, the new building has hallways, allowing students to be free from the weather outside,” Faw said.

The first floor of the SMCP building hosts several classrooms, faculty offices, an IT department, the math lab and a science museum. The second floor of the SMCP building hosts several more science and math labs while the third floor holds the offices of the Dean of Math and Sciences, Jim Arnold, the Dean of Health Sciences and Child Development, Roz Hartman, and many more faculty offices.

“It’s a cool building from the outside, but when you’re inside it kind of has an opaque feel to it, kind of bland in a way. Though it’s way better than the previous building. Way better,” commented Nic Pruno, a student attending College of Marin.

Chi Kai Cheng, a first semester student here at College of Marin, loves the new and clean-looking space. “ [It] seems there is more space and it seems really organized. For example first floor science, second floor nurses and third floor faculty.” Cheng also hopes for more commonplace areas in order to study.

“This building is a lot different than the old building,” said Laura Cooper, a chemistry lab tech for the department. “In the other building before, the chemistry stock room was connected to the lab. So that’s the biggest difference, which is a bit of an adjustment. Now I am just kind of open to the world and anybody coming into the building for any reason. Before, someone had to come into the chemistry lab to find me.”

When looking at the directory of the building, one can see “Fourth Floor: Telescope.” When asking several staff members and students if they had seen the telescopes on the fourth floor of the SMCP building, they were perplexed.

“I didn’t even know this building had a fourth floor for telescopes,” commented Steven Newton, a geology teacher who has been teaching at College of Marin since 2004.

“I wasn’t even aware of telescopes on the fourth floor,” said Kathaeryne Soluri. “In that case the telescopes are probably restricted access to the astronomy people because I know there are astronomy classes being offered out of this building. And I know one of the things they were trying to do when they made this building was to try and really create spaces that were ideal for the different sciences. So our room that we are sharing with geography, they’re really outfitting it with all the different cabinet space and map storage, and things like that which our two disciplines need.”

Jay Dobbson, the lab tech for physics, astronomy and engineering, shed a little light about the telescopes. “The telescope room is just consisted of many telescopes that will more likely be accessible to astronomy students accompanied by their instructor. The label of the fourth room is a mistake and will be removed.” Although the telescopes are only accessible by astronomy students, Dobbson believes that a public viewing night would be a great idea to attract more people to the college and to astronomy. “Realistically, everyone is overwhelmed with moving and adapting themselves into the new building, so the telescope issue is last on the list of priorities,” he said.

When asked about any facts Steven Newton knows about the building construction, he mentioned a high risk of  flooding to the building. “You can see the Corte Madera creek out there and it doesn’t take too much survey to know that the creek frequently comes out of its channel. And with only a couple of feet elevation, I would’ve thought they would’ve raised it just a little more. Just a couple of feet can make a huge difference, and with that being said maybe it won’t happen. Let’s hope not”.

All in all the new building seems to be up to par with the expectations to most students and faculty members.

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