Kerry Fehr-Snyder, Arizona Republic, Jan. 14, 2010
By the time classes begin Saturday, students at Chandler-Gilbert Community College will hardly see the last-minute scramble to open its first major building in 11 years.
The $18 million Ironwood Hall on the north end of CGCC’s Pecos campus contains nine science labs, 22 classrooms, six lounges, two lecture halls and 32 faculty offices. Adjacent to the building is a ceramics studio with 24 potters’ wheels and professional-grade kiln worth about $60,000.
About half of the building’s cost was equipment to conduct science experiments in chemistry, physics, geology and engineering, estimates Bill Guerriero, vice president of academic affairs.
The college is expanding its class offerings in biochemistry, biotech, physics, geology, engineering and other high-demand science majors. “We were always offering these classes but were just running out of room to accommodate them,” he said.
The new space is needed to accommodate the college’s enrollment growth, which is up about 15 percent from last year as laid off workers return to school, others retrain themselves and students work on their associate’s degrees.
Ironwood Hall’s opening means other classrooms that used to hold science courses can house general-education classes instead. But not for long, college administrators said. “If there’s breathing room now, it will last about six months, maybe a year,” Guerriero said.
Ironwood Hall is two stories tall and covers 58,500 square feet. It is a “green building” at the LEED Silver level. It uses reclaimed water for exterior irrigation and features insulated concrete on its exterior walls. It also incorporates a dramatic pedestrian bridge designed by Tucson sculptor Barbara Grygutis.
Before Ironwood Hall’s opening, chemistry courses were held in one large lab. They now will operate in separate labs with individual lab stations outfitted with “snorkel hoods” to ventilate noxious gases from experiments. “It’s the newest and greatest” in chemistry lab equipment, said Steven O’Neal, a chemistry instructor and the college’s science division chairman.
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