A dedication ceremony will be held today at 10 a.m. to celebrate the impending completion of a 9600 sq. foot addition to and 2000 sq. feet of renovation of Kohn Hall.
The ceremony will take place on the lawn facing the new $4.5 million wing, due to be completed within 60 days for use by the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). The research institute, which occupies all of Kohn Hall, boasts recent Nobel Prize winner Professor David Gross as its director, as well as many international and prizewinning physicists on its staff. Funding for the expansion was provided by a $7.5 million donation by Fred Kavli, founder and former CEO of the Moorpark, Calif. based Kavlico Corporation. Informal tours will begin at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day, with the official dedication beginning at 10 a.m.
Construction of the new wing and extensive renovation of Kohn Hall’s existing structures began in July 2003 by JW Bailey Construction and is 95 percent completed, said project manager Ray Aronson. The new wing will close the current “V” shaped structure of the building, Aronson said, providing additional research space for visitors and allowing scientists and grad students to move freely and communicate.
“We’ve made the building so that it circulates – so [the occupants] can see each other more,” Aronson said. “The building is like a think tank for physicists.”
Physics professor Lars Bildsten, a permanent member of the KITP, said the renovation and expansion includes new rooms, lounges, and a technologically advanced auditorium seating 50 people with Internet and broadcasting capabilities.
“Most of the new construction is to accommodate the visitors,” Bildsten said. “What the institute provides is the home away from home for the international faculty who are researching here.”
Bildsten said since visiting researchers typically stay at UCSB for three to six months, an office within Kohn Hall, enhanced by 24-hour accessibility, is assigned to them for their stay. The expansion added space for 50 more such visitors.
Aronson said along with construction of new rooms, old rooms were converted into bathrooms and lounge space, and the number of chalkboards was increased. Aronson said the new building, designed by architects at Michael Graves and Associates, has a Spanish-style hall that resides between the Engineering buildings, with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
“The building was designed to give the institute a cozy house look,” Aronson said.