Construction Coming to Presidents Circle


(Photo Courtesy of Facilities Management)

(Photo Courtesy of Facilities Management)
(Photo Courtesy of Facilities Management)

In the past 79 years, the George Thomas Building in Presidents Circle has served as the U’s library and the Utah Museum of Natural History. In Fall 2016, it will house research labs.
The U plans to start converting the building into the Crocker Science Center around May 2015. The redevelopment will include a seismic upgrade for the original portion of the building, new math and science classrooms and an addition of 52,500 square-feet that will host the Cell and Genome Research Center labs. To install this addition, the U will demolish the 13,200 square-feet that once housed the library’s stacks.
The renovation won’t completely destroy the long-standing structure. Shireen Ghorbani, spokesperson for the U’s Facilities Management, said the university will be “trying to retain as much of the historic feel of the building as possible.”
“We’ve had so many new buildings go up on campus, and that’s great, and they’re great spaces,” Ghorbani said. “But it’s nice to see some of the older buildings getting some TLC and rehoused and renovated so that we keep that connection to our past as we’re moving into our future.”
Sarah Bischoff, an undeclared freshman, said while she is not excited for more construction on campus, she likes the idea of the renovation.
“It’s good to recycle old buildings,” she said. “Things grow and change, and that’s not a bad thing. I like the use of the materials the campus has.”
According to an announcement from the College of Science, the project will retain the structure’s façade, entryway and some parts of the original library. The design for the new space also has plans to match the new architecture to the original building.
“President’s Circle is just one of the most historic parts of our campus,” Ghorbani said. “We are always looking for ways to extend the life of those lives that are sort of foundational to our institution.”
Bischoff likes that it will be a science building because she thinks students should see more areas on campus.
“I think a science building in that area is a good way to get students on different parts of campus,” she said. “I’ve met people who’ve never left the chemistry or biology buildings throughout their entire school career.”
The renovation will expand the building from 71,000 square-feet to 123,000 square-feet. Despite the additional space, Ghorbani said the building will be contained within the parameters of the current George Thomas Building, not connected to other nearby structures. The new space will also host a math and science tutoring center, a cafe and an atrium.
The center will be named after Gary and Ann Crocker, who donated $10 million in 2010 towards the building’s renovation. The U’s fundrasing campaign, Together We Reach, covered the majority of the remaining funds needed for the project. The construction will also receive money from the state.
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