The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology’s new home, a $261 million Biological Sciences Building, is expected to be completed in 2019.

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents approved the construction of the teaching, research, administration, and museum facility at their meeting Feb. 20, 2014. Funding is being provided by the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and the Office of the Provost.

The new 300,000-square-foot building will connect to the Life Sciences Institute, built in the early 2000s, creating an integrated and leading edge science hub on central campus. U-M has been carefully planning the project for years, partly due to the complex nature of shuffling programs. SmithGroup JJR and Ennead Architects will design the building, which is expected to create up to 256 on-site construction jobs.

The Departments of EEB and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology are currently located in the 99-year-old Kraus Natural Science Building, which will be repurposed for use by other academic departments. The Museum of Natural History, located in the 85-year-old Ruthven Museums Building, will also move to the BSB along with the Museums of Anthropology, Paleontology, and Zoology.

"This new building will provide modern, 21st century facilities for our world-class biological science programs and museums," said Susan A. Gelman, interim dean of LSA.  "Bringing these programs together under one roof will create exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching, research, and collaboration. It will also offer a richer experience for museum visitors."

The new building’s design will emphasize an open-lab concept to foster a sharing of ideas, resources and methods by situating professors’ labs in “research neighborhoods” based on overlapping interests.

“We don’t have that serendipity that comes because you run into somebody, and all of a sudden you’re drawing on the whiteboard there are no places to do that,” Goldberg said. “The current buildings were designed in a different era of science. Science is now a much more collaborative process.”

U-M officials were originally thinking of renovating the Ruthven Building to accommodate the biology program, but scrapped that idea in favor of a new building.

Once EEB and MCDB move into the new building, Kraus will be renovated for the School of Kinesiology and the School of Information. It’s a complicated and moving puzzle involving many people and programs.

Over the past several years, the Museum of Zoology moved millions of alcohol-preserved collections out of the Ruthven building to storage at a facility on Varsity Drive in Ann Arbor. A move of the museum’s dry specimens, such as fossils and other fragile artifacts is in the planning phase.

Compiled using information from related articles in the University Record, annarbor.com, and the Michigan Daily. Read "New biology building to increase lab space," in the Michigan Daily, March 18, 2014.