College breaks ground on laboratory facility

LAWRENCEVILLE — Georgia Gwinnett College held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for its new instructional laboratory facility that will accommodate the college’s rapidly expanding student body.

Featuring seven modern, multidisciplinary laboratories and an instrumentation core, the facility is designed for optimum function in meeting the young college’s critical need for more lab space, according to a news release.

Without the new facility, Georgia Gwinnett College would have to cap its enrollment at about 6,00 students. The new labs will enable to college to enroll up to 8,500, a number that GGC President Daniel Kaufman expects to achieve in the fall.

“The size of our enrollment and the pace of our growth is really no surprise,” Kaufman said. “The Gwinnett region needed a four-year, public college. Nothing reaffirms this institution more than our enrollment. Our ongoing challenge is to anticipate the growth and plan for it responsibly.”

The need for the laboratory facility was foreseen in 2006. During his first week as dean for the School of Science and Technology, Thomas Mundie calculated when the college would run out of laboratory capacity. With this knowledge, the college wove new labs into its campus facilities plan.

“This particular building has a unique history,” Kaufman said during the ceremony. “As some of you know, every student at GGC has to take a laboratory science as part of his or her general education curriculum. Additionally, as the college has grown, we have been very pleased that our biology major has been very popular. Indeed, we have over 800 biology majors, making it the second largest major on campus.

“And we will be adding a chemistry major in the near future. Consequently, we need lots of laboratory space.”

The new laboratory facility is designed for eventual incorporation into the college’s planned Allied Health and Sciences building, which has not yet been funded. It will feature brick, glass and metal architecture to complement existing campus buildings.

Of the seven laboratories, one will be dedicated to computational sciences, one to multidisciplinary research, one to physics, one to natural sciences, and three to biology and chemistry courses. They will be equipped with an advanced audio-visual system, including high-definition and three-dimensional imaging capabilities. Each lab will accommodate 24 students.

GGC’s 10 existing labs are located in Building A and were built for freshmen and sophomore courses offered through the Gwinnett University Center, which originally occupied the space. These labs are operating at maximum capacity, including evening and Saturday sessions.

The college has put the new laboratory facility on a fast-track construction schedule, with occupancy scheduled by the first day of classes in late August. The $7 million, 24,000-square-foot facility is funded by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents.

The laboratory facility will be located in a former parking lot adjacent to the Library and Learning Center. The college is gradually creating a pedestrian campus, with parking located around a pedestrian core.