By LUKE ENGBERT
On Monday, Oct. 9, work began on what has been approximated as a two-year renovation process of the Jepson Science building. This project will likely impact many UMW students and faculty members, particularly those in the science department.
One reason for the renovations is that the amount of space in the building is not sufficient enough to hold the number of science programs that Mary Washington has to offer. The number of science classes currently offered includes courses in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, environmental earth science and environmental science.
“Jepson only has three official classrooms right now leading to many classes being held in labs or in other buildings on campus like DuPont and the HCC,” said senior chemistry major, Nick Atwell.
According to Leslie Johnson, the project manager, the renovation process will result in an addition of a three-story building which will be attached to the existing facility. The funding for this project was appropriated through the state legislature. The building will have a total useable area of over 42,000-square-feet.
The third and fourth floor will also be renovated. Johnson said that the new space will be used to house classrooms and other facilities for Earth and environmental science as well as for the physics department. Changes made to the existing building itself are expected to include renovations of some 29,000-square-feet. That space will then be used as classroom, study and research space for biology and chemistry majors.
This prospective arrangement will give each department more space for their own specific uses. The number of classrooms and laboratory rooms which are currently shared by different science fields, should be reduced to some extent.
This project was met with a overall positive reaction from students.
“I am glad to see that they are adding more labs and renovating the old ones which will allow for more research to be conducted and different experiments to be done in the laboratory setting,” said Atwell.
With what appears to be an increasing popularity of the sciences at UMW, some students believe that the renovation of Jepson is occurring at an opportune time.
“The sciences are growing at Mary Washington and we are tightly packed into one building [we are] overflowing into other buildings too,” said junior geology major, Grace Rihl. “I think that it is important to support the sciences and this is a perfect way to do that.”
There are some downsides for students which will be due to the renovation. Atwell pointed out that the construction could interfere with existing work and study space.
“Since the renovations are being started during the school year we will not be able to use certain machinery and equipment because of limited supplies,” said Atwell.
The existing Jepson science building was constructed in 1998, and was funded through the generosity of alumni, Alice Andrews Jepson and her husband, Robert S. Jepson Jr. The building which they funded was a replacement for the then current home of the science departments, the Combs Science Hall. Since its original construction in 1998, the building has undergone little renovation apart from various pipes being replaced.
One aspect of the Jepson renovation project that will affect people other than the science majors, is parking changes. The information provided by Johnson states that the existing parking lot at Jepson will be closed off. That means that the faculty and staff who currently park there will be obligated to park on the top deck of Goolrick parking deck.
Student parking will not be affected quite as significantly, but the parking spaces along the portion of College Avenue in front of Jepson will most likely be unavailable for the duration of the renovation process.
Much of this parking information was also distributed to all faculty and students of UMW via an email a few weeks back, forwarded by Anna Billingsley from the Office of Parking management. At the end of the project, all regular parking at Jepson will be reduced to just ten parking spots.
The existing handicapped parking spaces, however, will remain available for use. Also, Johnson says that the number of handicapped spots available will be increased from nine to eleven spaces.