Western Carolina University breaks ground on $110M science building

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Architectural rendering provided by Lord Aeck Sargent

On March 2, Western Carolina University broke ground on a new 182,989-sq.ft., six story building.

The $110-million facility, named Tom Apodaca Science Building, will replace WCU’s existing, 1970s-era Natural Sciences Building. Construction will begin later this year, followed by completion by June 2021.

The building will include five stories of laboratory, classroom, assembly and office space, with the sixth story serving as a “mechanical penthouse.” It will feature a large, 150-person lecture hall, a science commons area on the first floor and a rooftop plaza for astronomy observations.

Patricia Kaemmerling, current chair of WCU’s trustees, characterized the Tom Apodaca Science Building as “a transformative facility.”

“This building will offer Western Carolina University’s students the high-quality classrooms and laboratories necessary for a 21st-century education,” Kaemmerling said, adding that the “building also will serve as a hub for regional economic development in Western North Carolina, capitalizing on the expertise of Western Carolina’s faculty.”

The ceremony included a blessing delivered by Tom Belt, coordinator of WCU’s Cherokee Language Program, in recognition of the building’s location on a site of cultural significance to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

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