As campus leaders gathered Monday to break ground on a new academic building, the only thing missing was the ground.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Psychology Building addition was moved from the building site to inside Corwin Pavilion due to rainy weather Monday, but campus administrators – including Chancellor Henry Yang and Psychology Dept. chair James Blascovich – did not let that cost them a photo opportunity. Martin Moskovits – dean of mathematics, life and physical sciences – and Fred Sweeney – an architect with the Santa Barbara firm that designed the building – joined Yang and Blascovich as speakers at the ceremony, which ended when they plunged shovels into a ceremonial box of dirt while the estimated crowd of 200 applauded.

Construction on the three-story, 17,000 square-foot facility will begin in late spring or early summer and is expected to be completed in summer 2006. It will include administrative offices, a computer lab and a basement housing the new Brain Imaging Center and a new space for the already established Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior (ReCVEB).

Moskovits said despite the “addition” in the project’s name, it is definitely an entirely new building.

“It’s only an addition insofar as there is a little bridge that links the old building with the new building,” he said.

Both Blascovich and Yang looked back on the process of getting the addition approved, which Yang said began a decade ago.

“Building here is like building in the rest of Santa Barbara – it takes a long time,” Blascovich said. “The idea for this building began in 1971 – not really,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

The addition will be built on the vacant lot directly east of the current psychology building. Yang said he was particularly pleased the addition would not take up any existing parking space.

“We know that every parking space means the world to this campus,” he said.

Moskovits used his speech to discuss the possibilities of combining the Brain Imaging Center and the ReCVEB.

“By linking brain imaging with virtual reality, we’ll be able to study the brain’s responses to episodes both unthinkably joyous and tragic,” he said. “We can look at how someone reacts when they are caught in a crossfire or the effects on pleasure centers of scoring the winning touchdown in the Rose Bowl.”