The Edward St. John Learning and Teaching Center is on track to open in time for the summer session, which starts May 30.
Located on McKeldin Mall, the new building features new chemistry labs, several collaborative lecture halls and three cafes, according to the building’s website.
Most of the building is newly constructed, but there is a wing that incorporates an older building from the 1940s, said Bill Olen, Facilities Management capital projects director. Olen said the construction team preserved the wooden structure of the older building, Holzapfel Hall, to give the wing a blend of classic and modern design.
The building is not designated to any specific department, Olen said. The Provost’s office has designated which classes will be in the building for the summer and fall sessions. One of those classes will be the public policy course Martin O’Malley is teaching in the fall.
“The Provost has a selection process for those that want to teach in the building,” Olen said. Because the classrooms are designed to be more collaborative, professors “have to be able to demonstrate they’re going to teach in a collaborative manner, so they’re going to interact with students instead of teaching in one direction,” he added.
Freshman architecture major Chris Weir, who is taking a class in Edward St. John in the fall, said he is interested in the modern design and function the new building will add to the university.
“I know that the university has a need for more teaching rooms in general as well as more interactive lecture halls, which is one of the cool things about the design of Edward St. John,” he said.
With 12 classrooms, nine chemistry labs and two green roofs, the $119 million project has been in the works since June 2014, Olen said. One green roof is accessible to students, and it overlooks the mall. The area could be used for student research as well, Olen added.
The chemistry labs were included as part of the larger plan to move people out of the Chemistry Building before it undergoes demolition and renovation.
Jash Shah, a junior biology major, said he sees benefit in having labs in a central part of campus, where people can get to the building faster after getting food from Stamp Student Union before sitting through a three-hour lab. The new labs appeal to him also, he said, because of the updated resources.
“The new [labs] would be a lot better … The equipment we use for gen chem lab just seems really outdated, so it would be nice to have a new space to work with,” he said.
The Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has a designated space in the building after being housed in a Symons Hall classroom for four years, the entire time the academy has existed, said Dean Chang, associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Chang said the focus of the academy is to incorporate innovation education into required courses to make students more well-rounded. He added that he is excited about the academy’s move to Edward St. John.
“This is a statement by the university that this is a 21st century way of learning, and these are 21st century skills that everybody is going to need,” Chang said. “Putting the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at St. John is just reinforcing that Maryland’s making a commitment to make sure all of our students will get these opportunities to be successful when they graduate.”