CSU chemistry, biology buildings officially open, create place for students to learn

Julia Trowbridge

people gather around all holding a large pair of scissors to cut the ribbon
At the opening ceremony for the Chemistry Research and biology buildings, Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda, College of Natural Sciences Dean Jan Nerger, Vice President for University Operations Lynn Johnson, Biology Department Chair Mike Antolin, and Chemistry Department Chair Chuck Henry ceremoniously cut the ribbon. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

The biology and chemistry research buildings had their official opening ceremony with ribbon cutting and building tours.

The Dean of the College of Natural Sciences Janice Nerger and others who were vital to the creation of the buildings gathered Thursday, Oct 12 to celebrate the buildings’ opening and look inside the new classrooms and laboratories.


“I’m delighted about these two facilities and look forward to the future of these operations,” Nerger said.

Since the groundbreaking ceremony in 2015, both buildings have been kept on track with their construction, and now offer great resources for Colorado State University science students. In addition to the practical design of the buildings, the buildings feature collaborative spaces and artistic features.

“We want you to know from when you walk in the door that this is a biology building, and I think we got it,” said Mike Antolin, the biology department chair. 

The entrance of the biology building features green plant decor, a large fish tank and information about biology along the first floor walls.  The chemistry research building has an art piece titled “Earth’s Blanket” outside of the building, which includes six models of molecules found in Earth’s atmosphere that light up at night.

people standing around outside Chemistry Research Building
The opening ceremony for the new buildings brought many people to view the new buildings. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

A feature of the buildings that the speakers were excited to talk about were the “idea spaces.” On each floor of both buildings, there is a designated area for collaboration with tables, intended to encourage students and professors to work together and talk about science. According to Nerger, these open spaces have naturally led to collaboration since the buildings opening.

“We’re in a world of collaborative science,” said Chuck Henry, the chemistry department chair. “These buildings are filled with spaces to work together, and the labs are based on the same open concept.”

The buildings were made to put science on display. A majority of both buildings are made of glass, allowing people to look into what research is going on in the labs of the chemistry and biology buildings. According to Nerger, the purpose of this design is to get students interested in the research happening in the laboratories. 

The Chemistry Research Building has added 103 fume hoods to the department. The building was designed to be mechanically intensive in order to keep up with the research the chemistry department is conducting. Even though the building is made for research, which requires using and disposing of chemicals, the building is on track to become LEED Gold certified.

view of a study area in the biology building
Collaborative areas and study spaces exist throughout the two buildings. In the biology building, facts are placed on the walls for increased exposure to information. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

According to Antolin, the biology building has been a success. 

“I was worried that students wouldn’t utilize the biology building at first,” Antolin said. “But, on the first day of its opening, there was a student studying for a summer class in the building.”


With the opening of the new building, the biology department will finally have a space dedicated entirely to biology classes. Students in the major did not feel like they had a space before the new building was added since most classes were scattered around the anatomy and zoology building and the other science buildings.

When designing the biology building, Antolin and others focused on this concern of the students.

“We wanted to build a destination, a place where students could come to be,” Antolin said.

Collegian news reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_ jules.