Academic leaders join topping-off ceremony for South Quad’s visionary academics building

The ceremonial topping-off of the visionary general academics building on Quinnipiac’s rapidly developing South Quad was celebrated with academic leaders who’ve collaborated to help shape the facility from the start.

Located on the Mount Carmel Campus between Tator Hall, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Commons residence hall, the South Quad’s three-building project broke ground in January of 2023.

The $293 million project includes the general academics building, a new School of Business, and a 417-bed student residence hall. The residence hall is on track to open at the start of the 2024-25 academic year, and the two academic buildings are set to open by the end of the 2024-25 academic year year.

On December 15, Provost Debra Liebowitz invited the project’s collaborative academic team to safely enter a portion of the South Quad construction site and join in on the topping-off ceremony.

“What a great thing to be doing at the end of the semester, on this exquisite day - taking stock of the incredible investment that the university is making in academics at Quinnipiac,” Liebowitz said. “Through conversations with the leadership, President Judy Olian’s vision, and ultimately the Board of Trustees support, we are standing here today.”

Liebowitz thanked the academic leaders for their part in the mindful, iterative process over the course of many months and meetings to help develop, refine and improve the academic building plan.

“That iterative process has taken a lot of work of a lot of people,” said Liebowitz. “I want to thank everyone for everything that you’ve done, and continue to do, to get to the point where we can occupy these buildings; and where they live as a breathing testament to the brilliant work that faculty do with students at Quinnipiac.”

The South Quad’s three sustainable buildings and its environmentally sensitive sustainable landscape are LEED-certified. Among its many exciting features, the general academic building incorporates state-of-the-art wet and dry labs, a space to expand Quinnipiac’s computing programs, new classrooms, inviting collaborative spaces for breakout and group study, offices for deans and faculty, a vivarium and a 700-seat auditorium.

Under brilliant blue skies, academic team members joined in signing a ceremonial steel beam, then cheered as it was hoisted high above and secured by workers as the building’s final construction beam. Next, they donned hardhats and joined Sasaki architect and project manager Steve Lacker for a construction tour of the building’s interior. Sasaki is the architect on the academic building and the South Quad landscape.

Director of Behavioral Neuroscience and associate professor of psychology Adrienne Betz said it was exciting to see the facility taking shape.

“I’ve been involved since the beginning of the conversations, and I’ve seen every iteration. It’s just so exciting. It’s going to be transformative for Quinnipiac,” said Betz. “I’ve been taking pictures of it from the third floor Tater window, watching it build up. It’s really amazing.”

Environmental science and studies program director Courtney McGinnis said being part of the academic team effort to help create this new facility, which includes new research, lab and vivarium spaces for her program has been a remarkable journey.

“It’s been a long, iterative process, and now it’s nice to see the final structural beam go into place, and celebrate the successes that we’ve been having,” said McGinnis.

Quinnipiac’s Director of Capital Planning and Construction, Elizabeth Bender, said getting to this point was a very proud moment.

“We’ve only been in construction for a year, and to be seeing the building structure finish up is a proud moment. It’s been a lot of hard work on so many people’s part, and the contractor in specific, for trying to work out the logistics. It was complicated and challenging; and I’m proud of all of the people who have got us here,” said Bender.

Sasaki principal architect Fiske Crowell has attended many topping-off ceremonies, but this one was unique, he said.

“What I love about this particular topping-off ceremony is the engagement of the faculty,” said Crowell. “This is a celebration of the academic community that’s being engaged with this building, and it’s very special that Deb organized it this way.”

Liebowitz thanked all involved in the project for their collaboration with the academic team. She also applauded the dedicated efforts of academic team coordinator Terri Johnson, associate vice president of student personal and professional development.

Additionally, Liebowitz recognized the leadership of biomedical sciences chair Robert Cottrell, together with biological sciences professor Patrice Boily, associate dean for administration and finance in the College of Arts and Sciences, in helping the team merge schools into the building.

Liebowitz said the new collaborative research areas and other spaces shared across departments and across schools will provide further opportunities to generate new ideas which can’t exist in buildings where schools are siloed.

“This gives us an opportunity to continue to move forward and think about how to be even more interdisciplinary, and to think about how to do things differently in the new building,” said Liebowitz.

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