Wilson's new science center a work of art

May 20, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Solar panels. Air exchange vents. Toilets that flush two different ways.

Big things contribute to the energy efficiency of Wilson College's new $25 million science center. But there are also small contributors, like showers for people biking to work and traditional slate chalkboards installed in the auditorium, rather than less environmentally friendly whiteboards that use markers.

A review process is under way to determine whether the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology will indeed be named the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building certified by the U.S. Green Building Council in Franklin County. A green construction consultant was on site as work progressed on the 76,500-square-foot complex.

General contractor R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., led workers in renovating the existing Paul Swain Havens Science Center and adding a wrap-around portion. Bricks from the Havens building were removed and used in the addition's facade to blend the two portions, and Pennsylvania limestone was used throughout.


A 28-foot tall waterfall circulates 60 gallons of water and anchors a two-story atrium.

"It really floods the building with natural light," college spokeswoman Cathy Mentzer said.

The complex houses a greenhouse and natural history museum, the latter of which showcases collections of fossils, eggs, rocks, minerals, and animals that have been stuffed.

"A lot of them were in basements because there was nowhere to have them on display," Mentzer said, saying now they're protected with cases and special lighting.

A thoroughbred's skeleton has a permanent showcase, but it can be rolled into laboratories for veterinary students to study.

The college started holding classes in the new science complex in January. A gala last Friday served as the naming ceremony, at which H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest and Marguerite Brooks Lenfest honored Marguerite's father by announcing the center's name. Harry R. Brooks wanted his daughter to attend Wilson College, and she graduated in 1955. The Lenfests contributed $10 million toward the science center and pledged up to $10 million to match other donations.

The college said in a news release that the Lenfests decided to contribute to the science complex for several reasons, one of which is that more than half of all Wilson students enroll in science-based majors and virtually all take science and mathematics courses as part of their general education requirements.

"Science also is a field in which the U.S. is not keeping up with the rest of the world, so I felt there was a need," Marguerite Lenfest said in the news release.

The Lenfests have given an additional $17 million to Wilson College in recent years.

More than $16 million has been raised to date toward the $25 million science complex, the news release stated.

Science by the numbers

Wilson College science center

-- 230 tons of structural steel

-- 1,355 cubic yards of concrete

-- 64 tons of concrete reinforcing bars

-- 780 tons of limestone facade

-- 450,000 feet of electrical/data wire

-- 4,800-amp electric service

-- 58,000 feet of pipe

-- 110,000 pounds of duct work

-- 9 heating boilers

-- 2 air conditioning chillers

-- 3,269 lamps/light bulbs

-- 4 laboratory exhaust fans for a total of 65,000 cfm (cubic feet per minute) exhaust

-- 16-month construction

-- Highest one-day number of workers was 179

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