Plans for a new state-of-the art Biological Sciences Building took another step forward Thursday as the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a schematic design.

The $261 million project will bring together the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, now housed in the Kraus Natural Science Building and the Ruthven Museums Building.

Some of the staff from the museums of Anthropology, Natural History, Paleontology and Zoology also will move into the new space. Most of the museum collections will be housed on Varsity Drive, Ann Arbor, with the exception of the Museum of Natural History, which moves to the new building. 

"Our goal is to provide a first-rate research and teaching space that will enable our current faculty to do their best work, and to recruit and retain the nation's top faculty and students," said Andrew Martin, dean of LSA.

The 300,000-square-foot Biological Sciences Building will house the research laboratories, associated support functions, offices and classrooms of the two departments.

Laboratories within the building will be constructed in an open plan to allow for greater collaboration, increased flexibility and better space utilization. The new three-section building will be connected by two small glass atria. One atrium will serve as the lobby for the new Museum of Natural History. The design also will bring natural light into both office and lab spaces.

"The research problems being addressed now require groups of people with diverse backgrounds, talents and knowledge. The design provides multiple formal and informal interaction spaces throughout the building," said Myron Campbell, associate dean for natural sciences. "The interaction spaces will facilitate groups, both within a single lab and across labs, to come together and discuss and work on problems."

Visitors to the Museum of Natural History will be able to see and interact with exhibits representing university discoveries as well as learn about current and ongoing research efforts. Classrooms will allow students to interact with actual specimens and artifacts in the expansive museum collections, and will enable faculty to use the latest ideas in teaching.

University officials expect the BSB project to take five years to complete construction and relocation of all departments.

Funding will be provided from LSA and Office of the Provost resources.  The architectural firm of SmithGroupJJR and Ennead Architects will design the project, which is expected to create up to 256 on-site construction jobs.

University Record article