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Belmont Breaks Ground on New Academic Building on Wedgewood Avenue

188,000-square-foot structure plus five-level underground garage will be largest campus building to date

Belmont University broke ground this morning on the campus’ largest building to date, a 188,000-square-foot academic center situated on the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues. The building will house most departments from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Religion, providing much-needed classroom and lab space for the growing University. Slated to open in fall 2014 and anticipated to cost $76.5 million, the new building is being designed and built by locally-owned companies—Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) and R.C. Mathews—and will create jobs for hundreds in Middle Tennessee. A five-level underground parking garage will also provide approximately 430 additional parking spaces, and the facility will connect on three floors to both the Inman Center and McWhorter Hall.

“The building establishes a new cornerstone for Belmont University and provides a true reflection of who we are,” said Belmont President Bob Fisher. “It will sit as a beacon on the northeast edge of campus, offering a perfect view of the Nashville skyline and inviting Nashville and the world to come and see what Belmont is all about:  providing an academically challenging liberal arts education in a Christian community of learning and service.”

Since Belmont’s general education/core curriculum requires courses in writing, speech, math and religion, among others, every undergraduate will take classes in the new academic center. In addition, the center will house a 280-seat chapel, a dining venue, 30 classrooms that vary in seating capacity, state-of the-art laboratories and conference room space.

Dr. Thomas Burns, who serves as Belmont’s Provost overseeing all academic programs, added that the building’s design has been a campus-wide effort. “We began this process in the fall with a blank canvas, recognizing that we needed additional academic space but carefully considering which areas to prioritize. Through ongoing conversations and collaboration with students, faculty and staff, we’ve honed in on Belmont’s most urgent needs in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Religion. With their input, we’ve drawn plans for a building that will enable interdisciplinary studies and experiential learning while also representing the latest thinking in classroom space.”

Wedgewood Academic Center Features

  • Building will house 30 classrooms that vary in seating capacity from 24-seats to 72-seats, allowing flexibility in usage
  • Numerous smaller seminar rooms and study rooms will be included as well
  • Building designed for interdisciplinary collaboration and “planned collisions” between students and faculty
  • State-of-the-art science labs will be built for biology, chemistry and physics programs allowing for student and faculty research
  • Large conference room space will be included on the fourth floor
  • Building will emphasize experiential learning and group interaction spaces
  • The first floor will house a coffee/sandwich shop and student-centered services that are planned to include the University’s Writing Center and Language Lab
  • Open atrium on four of the five floors with plentiful natural light throughout
  • Fifth floor dome echoes dome on Baskin Center, and glassed-in conference room inside dome provides unprecedented view of Nashville skyline

An Environmentally Sustainable Facility

  • Multiple green roofs—one adjacent to a biology lab space on the third floor and several green roof spaces accessible from the top floor
  • Garage’s top level will include a recycling room and trash compactor
  • Underground parking garage limits footprint
  • LED lighting and motion sensors in all offices, classrooms and labs
  • Cutting edge Chilled Beam mechanical system in conjunction with a VAV system throughout the building.
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