Vassar College To Build "Science Neighborhood"

Jul 27, 2012

Future science education in Dutchess County will be more integrated, when Vassar College completes its flagship campus complex in 2015.  The proposed academic facility is designed by architects to function as a bridge, allowing ecological study of the stream crossing beneath its archway.

After many years of programming and needs analysis, Vassar College has decided to launch a renovation and construction project for its 12 acre neighborhood of science buildings.

The details were presented to the Dutchess Economic Development Corporation at Thursday morning's quarterly board meeting, held at Vassar's Alumnae House.

“It's literally designed as a two-story bridge, spanning the Fontaine Kill,” said Marianne Begemann, Vassar's dean of strategic planning and academic resources. Named the Bridge Building, the raised hall will house a nexus of fields: Chemistry Biochemistry; Earth and Environmental Sciences; and the like.

Features include LEED certified green construction standards, and proactive landscaping.

Additionally, the physics building will be fully renovated, to include Vassar's Computer Science Department. The New England psychology building and part of Olmstead Hall will also be overhauled.

The estimated cost for the whole project is $125 million, raised from bonds and philanthropic gifts.

“We hope to break ground in the spring of 2013,” Begemann said. “It'll take a full two academic years, plus the summers on either end, to finish the new construction.”

Absent unforeseen snags, the Bridge Building will open its doors in the fall of 2015. Until then, Vassar will conduct a juggling act to keep programs running in existing spaces during the work. “It's a real logistical puzzle to figure out,” Begemann said.