After several construction delays, the new UCSB Life Science Building will include teaching laboratories, classrooms and a lecture hall, among other facilities that did not previously exist in the World War II-era structure.

The $32 million project was originally scheduled to open in August 2004, but the Soltek Pacific contracting company pushed the open date back to spring of 2005 because of difficulties related to building material and skilled labor availability incurred during construction. UCSB Design & Construction Services Director Jack Wolever said the four-story building is currently 75 percent complete.

The Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) Dept. and the Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology(EEMB) Dept. will both be housed in the 76,871-square foot building once it is complete, MCDB chair Dennis Clegg said.

“The new teaching laboratories will allow us to teach undergrads state-of-the-art techniques that will help them get jobs after they graduate,” Clegg said.

The project, located on the east end of campus across the street from the Santa Rosa Residence Hall, consists of a reinforced concrete building with two teaching laboratories, upper-division laboratories, small classrooms, a tiered 150-student lecture hall, administration and staff offices as well as specialized clean rooms for the study of bacteria.

Martie Levy, director of Capital Development, said state funding accounted for over $29 million of the $32 million total cost. A mix of university and federal funds provided the rest of the money. She said the National Institutes of Health allotted a $1.7 million federal grant toward the installation an Alzheimer’s disease lab on the first floor to aid faculty members in Alzheimer’s-related research.

Clegg said the specialized clean rooms will allow researchers to have an impact on basic biology research despite UCSB’s lack of a medical school.

“There is a real explosion of new building and research going on campus that will allow us to hire even better faculty – the cream of the crop.” Claig said.

The new facilities will create three new positions at UCSB, which have already drawn 400 applicants, Clegg said. Many applicants were especially drawn by a facility that will allow researchers to work safely with viruses and bacteria – providing the opportunity to work on defense research related to biological warfare.

EEMB Dept. chair Alice Alldredge said the new life sciences building replaces two buildings that were between 40 and 50 years old. One building, which was torn down to make room for the new addition, did not have any classrooms, only labs. Alldredge said the addition will help both departments develop into more modern research facilities.

“The Ecology and Evolution faculty needs high-tech equipment for sequencing DNA, a lot of good labs and good air exchange,” Alldredge said.

The new building will accommodate all of these needs, Alldredge said. Over $1 million of the project’s budget has been allotted to technical equipment such as microscopes and computers, as well as more fundamental equipment, like ice machines.

Although construction on the building began in December 2002, Dennis Whelan, a senior planner for Campus Planning and Design, said it will not be open until spring due to a shortage of qualified labor and building materials, as well as the extended period of time needed to complete the interior laboratories.