I’ve never written a blog post before, but if I’ve been trained for anything in my career, it’s the ability to write lists of 51 items.
Fifty-one is my favorite number – it’s the smallest number that feels like a prime number (only divisible by one and itself), but it’s actually the product of 3 and 17.
So I’m happy to write a list of 51 Reasons to Love the Integrated Science Center. The building opened about a month ago, and we’re still moving in. So I’m sure there are great things that I haven’t discovered yet, but here’s a list of 51 reasons from my perspective (with some help from my students and colleagues – 51 is a big number!):
1. I proposed to my wife in an old Ivers classroom, and there’s a classroom in that location now. (There’s no commemorative plaque where I asked the question yet, but I assume that’s coming.)
2. The view from my office is unbelievable – I feel like I should’ve donated more just for my view.
3. More generally, the views out from the building are very impressive – some even from interior rooms!
4. And because of all of this open glass, we can see into spaces and watch the learning and discovery happen.
5. In particular, I’ve enjoyed having people be able to see into my classes as they walk by. Yes, it can get a little distracting at times – I even invited in a couple of students who were walking by on the sidewalk once (don’t worry, it was “relevant” to the material that day) – but it’s never been overwhelming. (Except that one time when two small kids kept their faces pressed to the glass for over a minute – that was unnerving.)
6. You can write on the glass, just like in the movies!
7. The ISC has lots of student study spaces and discussion spaces in good locations throughout the building.
8. A lot of these spaces have TV screens where you can wirelessly project computers from around the world. I’ve seen students using these for studying, but imagine the possibilities during basketball tournament season.
9. The TVs can project up to four computers at a time – again, basketball …
10. We have a lot of whiteboards, too. I lost count at 51.
11. The building has become a go-to place for students. The atrium, in particular, is packed at certain times of the day. I was here this past Sunday evening, and almost every chair was full.
12. Lunchtime during the week is busy, too. I’ve made it my goal to never eat lunch in my office, and I’ve had three unplanned lunches with students in the first month, along with many other lunches with colleagues.
13. These go-to places are right by our classrooms, offices, and labs.
14. In fact, my office overlooks one of the atrium balconies, and some of my students like to work over there. We’re working on communicating with hand signals through the windows, but we’ll really be able to make the leap when we start writing backwards on the glass.
15. There’s an impressive staircase and ramp leading to the main entrance – it looks really cool from the bell tower.
16. The view from Eighth Street hasn’t changed much, but I like that you can see the solar panels on the roof from that side.
17. And a pollinator garden is coming on that side this fall. (We’re a third of the way through this list, surprisingly!)
18. There are beautiful new plants all around the building.
19. And there’s actually some sort of rain capture process to water some of the plants, but don’t ask me to explain how it works.
20. There are really cool benches throughout the building that our Facilities Management team made from an old oak tree that had to be removed during construction.
21. Some of the carpet tiles are hexagonal and fit together in a hexagonal tiling pattern, which is pretty math-y (or benzene-y, I guess).
22. Speaking of chemistry, there are a lot of periodic tables around the building, but one on the third floor lights up in blue!
23. We have some great lab spaces that allow us to teach and research in new and different ways, and more are reaching completion.
24. The building budget includes $1 million in lab equipment.
25. The classrooms have great new technology as well.
26. And the technology is pretty easy to use. The main tech panel in each room displays giant red and green buttons for turning something off or on – how easy is that?
27. We have a variety of classroom configurations with projectors and boards in various spots, and movable tables and chairs that let us use a variety of pedagogies.
28. There are lots of water bottle filling stations.
29. There’s plenty of bike parking.
30. Some local artwork is coming soon.
31. We’re targeting LEED Gold certification.
32. There’s a fireplace in the atrium – we haven’t had to use it yet, but those days are coming!
33. There’s plenty of comfortable furniture.
34. For example, our office chairs are really nice. The promotional video for them said that their arms are four-dimensional, which doesn’t really seem possible, but they’re still pretty sweet.
35. Speaking of offices, they’re designed in really smart configurations that are inviting to students.
36. And speaking of chairs, my students tell me that their study chairs can roll really far down the hallways. I trust them but also decided to, um, fact check that statement for this blog post.
37. 90% of the demolition material was recycled.
38. Near a second floor entrance, we have a living wall – a lot of potted plants are embedded in rows in the wall.
39. I didn’t count how many plants are in the wall, but I assume it’s 51. Three rows of 17 each?
40. Our sustainability interns will be taking care of the living wall.
41. Near the living wall is a tiny room that currently only contains a pipe. I imagine it will eventually be storage, but it’s pretty fun right now.
42. On the north end, there’s a skylight that opens all the way down to the first floor. A first floor skylight? It’s like magic!
43. A lot of campus members signed a beam last semester that’s now up in the mechanical penthouse. (I just had to write "51 = 3 times 17" by my name.)
44. All of the lights are LED, and most of them are dimmable – hours of fun!
45. Many of us are sharing spaces with or near new departments, so we’re getting to know other people better.
46. While lots of things are new, there are still nods to the old Ivers and Jones look and feel. In certain stairwells, you can even imagine that you’re back in the old building!
47. We’ll have a greenhouse, a natural history museum with an herbarium, an aquarium, a vivarium – basically, all of the “arium”s are covered.
48. The walls range from the original brick to white, gray, and slate blue.
49. We’re looking forward to hosting visitors from the community and showing off our new building!
50. In particular, I’m excited about getting K-12 students into the building to see math and science in action here at Concordia.
51. Finally, many thanks to the donors, workers, and everyone who worked so hard to make this wonderful new building a reality for our students!
Dr. Daniel Biebighauser is an associate professor of mathematics.