Community Building in Cooper: Plans for 2014 to renovate the Cooper Science Building are well underway
While renovations are currently underway at Ball State University’s Cooper Science Building, it has taken years of planning and preparation. Jim Lowe, associate vice president of facilities, planning and management at Ball State, said the conversation about Cooper Science started in 2014.
“These discussions continued until we at the university made the decision to approach Cooper’s needs in three phases,” Lowe said. “Phase One was to build a new building – we built the Health Professions building.”
Lowe said by the time plans were made for the Health Professions Building and construction began, the College of Health was formed, “so the timing was perfect.”
Several departments such as Nursing, Social Work, Athletic Training, Counseling Psychology, Speech Pathology, and Audiology have made themselves at home in the Health Professions building, freeing up more space in Cooper Science for the remaining departments to relocate around the building.
“We determined that the approach for Phase Two was to build another new building – the Foundational Sciences Building, [where] we would drag chemistry and biology into it,” said Lowe.
Regarding Phase Three, Lowe said it was “finally” time to draw attention to the Cooper Science Building. After the biology and chemistry departments moved out, other departments were able to move to the east end of Cooper Science, according to Kevin Smith, associate dean at the College of Sciences and Humanities.
“Other departments that were in Cooper’s West End, notably geography and physics, geography and meteorology, and then astronomy, moved their offices to the East End,” Smith said. “So that made it possible to start work on basically rebuilding the western half of Cooper.”
Smith said the area immediately east of the planetarium will be significantly redeveloped, demolished to the base and rebuilt.
“What’s going to happen is space is being remodeled and then over the next summer and that’s going to be complicated maneuvering, but you have in this space, geography and meteorology, [and] Physics and astronomy,” Smith said.
According to Smith, the Department of Environment, Geology and Natural Resources will be one of the units moving into Cooper after the renovation. This department, in its current form, is scattered across campus.
“In this department there is a Faculty of Natural Resources that deals with soil quality and soil science. They have a geology department that also deals with minerals and soils,” Smith said. “So [the reconstruction of the Cooper Science Building is] It allows them and their students to be in the same field, in the same research area, with modern new facilities.”
In addition to the Department of Environment, Geology and Natural Resources, Smith says the laboratory for applied anthropology has also found a home — consisting of the Department of Archeology and the Department of Anthropology. Lowe said once all departments of the College of Sciences and Humanities move in, construction of the East End will begin.
Lowe said he was very grateful to the Indiana General Assembly for donating $59.9 million to the Cooper Science Building. He said the grant allows for the renovation of Cooper Science to include both sustainable and collaborative workspaces and labs.
“We’re creating a digital lab space on the east end of the building, a community meeting space on the south side of the building, restoring the observatory, and making the building much more sustainable,” Lowe said. “The building will be hooked up to the geothermal systems and start saving even more money or making even more savings.”
Our goal is to continue creating spaces that are flexible learning spaces that can be used and shared by all departments in that particular building.”
The west end of Cooper Science is scheduled for completion by spring 2023, and construction for the east end will take effect immediately – expected to be completed by spring 2024.