The UC Berkeley Energy Biosciences Building, which will complete construction within the next two weeks and begin initial move-in of faculty and equipment on July 30, is scheduled to open in early September.
The project — for which construction began in summer 2010 after the old building was demolished in spring 2010 — cost $133.2 million dollars and was financed by a combination of $40 million dollars in previously approved state lease-revenue bonds, external financing primarily from British Petroleum and private donations. The five-story, 112,800 square-foot building, formerly known as the Helios Building, is located adjacent to the central campus in Downtown Berkeley.
Both the campus Energy Biosciences Institute, which works to devise viable solutions to global energy challenges and reduce the impact of fossil fuels on global warming, and the campus bioengineering program will be housed in the new building. Both programs will replace the California Department of Health Services, which vacated the old building in 2006.
When plans for the building were initially created, completion was anticipated for late 2012 or early 2013, according to the building website. The UC Board of Regents originally approved the project in January 2010.
“Construction has gone very smoothly, we’ve finished ahead of schedule,” said Christine Shaff, communications director of the campus’s Facilities Services Department. “We’ve come in under budget.”
The institute is a collaboration between the campus, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and British Petroleum, which will support the institute with a 10-year, $500-million grant, according to the website. All collaborators will be housed in the building and be able to work together.
“It’s great for the researchers in (the institute) because they used to be scattered around the campus, so this will consolidate the research,” said campus Manager of Science Communications Robert Sanders. “It will be really great for the lab benchwork.”
The building will also house the campus Synthetic Biology Institute, which is a component of the bioengineering program, and its researchers. Many of these scientists work with the institute as well, so placing each component in the same building will help facilitate more efficient research, according to Sanders.
“It’s going to be a very easy move, with an easy continuation of work,” said the institute’s Research Operations Manager Mara Beth Bryan. “We’ve been planning this for a long time.”
Above all, faculty members said the new building will allow scientists who overlap in their work in the various labs and groups to collaborate more easily.
“It will allow us all to be more efficient and travel better between the different groups,” Bryan said. “It will make us one community.”
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