Open for Discovery

The new-look Edison Science Building puts science on display.

A welcome sight greeted students and faculty when they returned to campus this semester: a fully functional, state-of-the-art science building.

For the last two-and-a-half years, sections of Edison have been closed on a rotating basis as the facility underwent an extensive renovation and expansion. The interior was stripped down to the studs and sub-flooring, exterior walls were pushed out, and a new section was added, says Dean of the School of Science Steven Bachrach. Though technically not a new building, anyone who hasn’t visited campus in several years likely wouldn’t recognize the facility that stands adjacent to Torcivia Common. And once people step inside, they’ll see something even more spectacular.

Gone are the cinder block walls, dark hallways, and brutalist architectural style that marked the old Edison. Large exterior windows and glass walls running throughout the interior allow natural light to pour in, giving Edison a bright, airy, open feel. Classrooms, labs, collaborative spaces, and faculty offices now seemingly blend into one large, inviting space. The design choice is “purposeful,” says Bachrach.

“It puts science on display and gets students curious and excited about learning,” says Bachrach. “Instead of ‘hiding’ what we’re doing, we want to welcome people into the scientific endeavor. We hope this building will foster a sense of discovery. That’s why people become scientists—to be involved in discovery, to do something new, to create new knowledge, to push back on the frontiers of what we understand.”

The changes go beyond the aesthetic. In addition to its larger footprint, the building contains a multitude of new and improved spaces and safety features, says Bachrach, including 12 faculty research labs, a tissue culture lab, seven prep labs, nine instrument labs, 15 write-up rooms, a herbarium and vivarium, and 55 fume hoods. There is also ample space for students to study alone or to collaborate with classmates. And since all Monmouth students are required to take science courses as part of their core academic requirements, the new facility benefits everyone, says Bachrach.

At $40 million, the Edison renovation and expansion was the largest academic construction project in the university’s history. Funding came from a variety of sources, including $5 million from New Jersey’s Building Our Future Act and the state’s Capital Improvement Fund, as well as generous contributions from several individuals.

“We have big expectations with this new facility,” the dean said during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony held in February. “We believe that our new facilities will be quite attractive to prospective students and parents, and new faculty. These new facilities will inspire our faculty to undertake new and more ambitious research projects. More students will be drawn into this research enterprise, and share in the unmatched excitement of scientific discovery. We firmly believe that this beautiful new facility has transformed the School of Science into an open, interactive cornerstone of the Monmouth University campus.”