Darrell Steinberg, Sac State officials break ground on $90 million science complex

Sacramento State broke ground on a $90 million science complex on Monday, Sept. 18.

The 96,631-square-foot complex will open in June 19, and will include 30 cutting-edge biology and chemistry labs with the latest instruments, according to university officials. Construction is set to take place on campus near the American River, next to the Hornet Bookstore and south of the Guy West Bridge.

The university also hopes to include schoolchildren and the community in the complex, with a 120-seat planetarium and a roll-back rooftop observatory and telescopes, according to a news release.

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, saying that he hopes future students of the nearby Phoebe Hearst Elementary School will be taking field trips to this planetarium, rather than to one in San Francisco as he did when he was a student there.

The complex will replace the outdated Sequoia Hall, which currently houses the university’s science programs. University President Robert Nelsen said that he hopes that this new construction will improve the experience of STEM students at Sacramento State and will help these students and all others graduate in four years.

Nelsen described the dire need for a new building in his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony, telling a story of when he first toured Sequoia Hall and found that, due to broken bunsen burners, students were using hair dryers from Target to heat chemicals.

State Senator Richard Pan, a former director of the UC Davis Pediatric Residency Program, shared his first impression upon touring Sequoia Hall during his speech.

“My god, how do they teach students in here?” Pan said.

But Pan and Nelsen were in high spirits as they prepared to break ground on this new complex, which speakers at the event all agreed would help Sacramento State to follow in the city of Sacramento’s footsteps by creating more opportunities for innovation and growth. U.S. Representative Doris Matsui and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg were also in attendance and joned Nelsen, Pan, McCarty, Sacramento State ASI Student Body President Mia Kagianas and other university officials in breaking ground on the new center.

“Today is a bad day for the hair dryer industry,” Steinberg said.

Emily Zentner: 916-321-1074, @emilymzentner