Sacramento State gets green light on long-awaited science facility

Sacramento State University won funding approval Wednesday for a new $91 million science building overlooking the American River.

Science II will be built on a parking lot just north of the student bookstore, with modern classrooms, laboratories and amenities.

Construction of the long-awaited facility will begin in April 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2019, said Mike Lee, the school’s chief financial officer.

“We are grateful to CSU’s board of trustees for their approval of Sac State’s new Science II Building,” President Robert Nelsen said in a prepared statement. “The new building will provide much-needed lab space and classrooms in fields where we are critically short of space. Today is a great day for our students and faculty.”

The CSU board of trustees approved $71 million for the building, which will come from a state revenue bond issued by the university. The remaining $20 million will come from money Sacramento State has set aside for academic facilities and from anticipated donations.

“I think there is a wonderful naming opportunity,” Lee said.

The science building has been planned for more than two decades and was initially approved in 2008, but was shelved later that year when the economy soured, Lee said. CSU trustees approved the plan for the building again earlier this year and the funding on Wednesday.

The new science building will allow more students to complete required lab courses and eliminate the bottlenecks in those courses, Lee said.

The new building also will provide a badly needed update to aging technology, Lee said. “When you teach science and technology and you use 30- to 40-year-old technology and buildings, that logically doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Obtaining funding for the new science building was one of the top priorities in the university’s recently completed 20-year plan. The ambitious plan included 1.3 million square feet of new construction that includes student and faculty housing, a performing arts center, a student events center and additional parking structures.

Projects in the plan will be paid for by student fees and state and private funds, much of which still need to be approved or identified.

The top priority in the plan was a 416-bed residence hall, currently under construction. The dorm will overlook the river and provide easy access to popular bike paths atop the levees. California State University trustees approved the $54.9 million project earlier this year.

Next on the priority list is a new classroom building and a building that will house the engineering and computer sciences departments.

Diana Lambert: 916-321-1090, @dianalambert