Georgia Tech Transforms Campus with State-of-the-Art Buildings
Posted October 20, 2003 | Atlanta
When Georgia Tech sophomores returned to school this fall, they came back to a campus drastically different from the one where they started college a year earlier. Over the past year, Georgia Tech had opened $500 million in completed construction projects, more than any other university in the United States. One-sixth of the space in use this fall is entirely new.
The burst in construction is part of the Institute's strategic plan for education, research and campus facilities that will lead Tech to define the technological university of the twenty-first century.
"Our building program speaks to our intent to take our place among the great educational institutions of the world," explained President G. Wayne Clough. "When you arrive on our campus, we want you to feel the value we place on institutional traditions when you see restored historical buildings. At the same time, you should sense our commitment to innovation in the way our new buildings and laboratories look and the way we bring them together into academic neighborhoods. You should see open spaces that appeal to our aesthetic side, and classrooms that enhance a dynamic learning environment."
Among the more than 20 new or renovated buildings, the most visible is the $256 million Technology Square project that turned a once dilapidated part of the city into a mixed-use and transit-oriented neighborhood that combines street-level retail, academic, research and office space in the heart of Atlanta's Midtown business district. But, for all its innovative features, Technology Square is only half of the picture. Rounding out Georgia Tech's new facilities are projects that illustrate the school's rising prominence among the world's top-ranked universities.
Innovation through interdisciplinary research
New facilities dedicated to interdisciplinary research are realizing Clough's visions for the Georgia Tech campus. The evolving Life Sciences and Technology Complex added the $23 million U.A. Whitaker Building and the $58 million Ford Environmental Science and Technology Building. Whitaker is the new home of Georgia Tech and Emory University's joint program, the Coulter School of Biomedical Engineering, the only public-private joint academic department in the country. The Ford ES&T Building, now the largest academic building on campus, houses faculty and students from five different schools focusing on environmental issues. Tech expects to complete the complex with a building dedicated to molecular science and engineering.
"The most interesting questions in research are at the boundaries of disciplines," said Narl Davidson, associate dean in the College of Engineering. The complex was designed to foster interaction among peers from various departments. Rather than the traditional design of devoting sections of a building to each discipline, researchers from chemical, electrical, mechanical and biomedical engineers share office and lab space with their colleagues from areas such as biology and chemistry. This arrangement is already leading to developments in fields like molecular imaging, which requires experts with knowledge of molecular biology, quantum mechanics and electrical and computer engineering, said Davidson. "What's really powerful is having access to expertise in all those areas and being able to share it," he said.
Georgia Tech also added a new campus in Savannah to its portfolio, which already includes activities in France and Singapore. The three new buildings at Georgia Tech-Savannah house the Georgia Tech Regional Engineering Program, which expands the school's engineering program to the southern portion of the state. This fall the new campus hosts 440 students.
"A few years ago, it became clear more engineers would be needed to meet the needs of the industrial- and technology-based growth in southeast Georgia and Savannah," said Jean-Lou Chameau, provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Individuals in southeast Georgia who want a premier engineering education close to home were an untapped pool of talent. The increase in engineering talent made possible with Georgia Tech-Savannah is helping the state secure its standing as one of the nation's leaders in technology development."
To make an even bigger impact on the region, the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus includes satellite locations of two Atlanta-based economic development programs that help Georgia entrepreneurs launch and build successful companies: The Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute and the Advanced Technology Development Center.
Energizing campus life
Along with Clough's vision of supporting Tech's academic mission with new facilities, boosting the quality of campus life is at the top of the agenda. Technology Square's public spaces are already providing much-needed relief from the rigors of the school's academics. On the other side of campus, the first phase of reconstruction of the Olympic Aquatic Center--built for the 1996 games--is transforming the open-air natatorium into a full-fledged Campus Recreation Center (CRC). After enclosing the pool and diving well, Tech built a full-service gym over the pool, a modern engineering marvel of construction. Complete with six basketball courts, weight and aerobics rooms and an elevated jogging track that provides views of Midtown Atlanta, the new CRC gives students and faculty an athletic facility that surpasses the offerings of many privately owned workout chains. When the second phase of construction is completed next fall, the CRC will add a leisure pool, racquetball courts, squash courts, auxiliary gym, lounge and parking deck.
Next to the CRC, the new Whitehead Building, which houses the Stamps Health Services Center, offers students medical and dental services. In the Home Park neighborhood adjacent to campus, the R. Kirk Landon Learning Center offers Tech and its neighbors first-rate child care. The reconstruction of Bobby Dodd Stadium and the addition of 9,000 seats restores the nation's oldest Division I-A on-campus stadium to first-class condition.
Georgia Tech's $500 million infusion into campus facilities over the past year represents a giant investment in the Institute's future. Investments such as the rebirth of the Library West Commons into a digital information hub are the model for future projects like the Innovative Learning Resource Center. The Klaus Advanced Computing Building, to be built next to the Life Sciences and Technology Complex, will complete a neighborhood devoted to information and biotechnology. Each future project will build on the innovations of the past year to fulfill Tech's goal of defining the technological university of the twenty-first century.
"Our building program of today attempts to not only serve near-term educational and research goals, but also to create a campus that, one hundred years from now, will demonstrate that our generation understood its obligation to the Georgia Tech of the next century," said Clough. "We are building a Georgia Tech that will stand among the world's best universities long into the future."
Campus Construction at a Glance
Global Learning Center
Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center
Economic Development Building
Barnes & Noble @ Georgia Tech
Technology Square Research Building
Ford Environmental Science and
U. A. Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Building
John S. Coon Building (renovation)
West Commons, Price Gilbert Library (renovation)
Campus Recreation Center (Phase I)
Whitehead Building (Stamps Health Services)
Bobby Dodd Stadium (expansion/renovation)
Research Administration Building
R. Kirk Landon Learning Center (child care)
Business Services Building
Georgia Tech-Savannah campus (three buildings)
Klaus Advanced Computing Building
Student Center renovation
Campus Recreation Center (Phase II)
Food Processing Technology Building
On the drawing board:
Innovative Learning Resource Center
Advanced Clean Room Building
Materials and Molecular Science and