Center to house multiple colleges, labs, chapel, conference space
After 27 months of construction, Belmont University administrators, trustees and student representatives officially cut the ribbon today to signify the grand opening of the Wedgewood Academic Center, a 186,000 square foot structure plus 159,500 square feet for parking located on the corner of Wedgewood and 15th Avenues. From the five-level underground garage fit to hold 430 vehicles to the Fifth Floor Conference Room offering a perfect bird’s eye view of Nashville’s skyline, the building stands as a new cornerstone for the University that seeks to serve both its growing student body and its dynamic hometown.
President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “This building is designed for daily interdisciplinary collaborations, and it provides classrooms and laboratories that not only represent the latest thinking in academic spaces but will also greatly enhance hands-on experiential learning.”
The largest campus building to date, the Wedgewood Academic Center will house three colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), the College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM) and the College of Theology and Christian Ministry (CTCM)—and every undergraduate student will take courses in the building as part of the University’s general education curriculum. The new facility more than doubles the physical space these colleges—which consist of more than 50 undergraduate programs—occupied previously. In addition, the structure also houses Belmont’s new 300-seat chapel, which will host services every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as special events throughout the year.
“The Wedgewood Academic Center provides a perfect visual testimony of just what a unique and challenging education Belmont offers,” said Dr. Fisher. “Where else can science, liberal arts and religion students and faculty interact so easily? I believe the building itself will quickly become a Nashville icon—it is spectacular.”
Thirty classrooms that vary in capacity from 24-72 seats allow flexibility of use, while numerous smaller seminar and group study rooms enable more in-depth and focused discussions among students and faculty, a fact for which Belmont is well-known (U.S. News & World Report has lauded the University numerous times for its commitment to undergraduate teaching). In addition, the building houses 20 science labs outfitted with more than $2 million dollars in equipment, including state of the art spectrometers, a microwave reaction chamber, a cold room and incubators for biological studies, a state-of-the-art laser laboratory and an acoustics laboratory. A student-centered service area on the first floor allows for personal assistance via a Writing Center, Math Lab, Computer Science Lab, Language Learning Lab and a centrally located Service Learning and International Education office. Also on the first floor, the campus community can enjoy a dining option featuring Sandella’s Flatbread sandwiches and a We Proudly Brew Starbucks outlet.
Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns added, “Our entire campus is excited to celebrate today’s grand opening. Starting in August 2011 with an invitation from our president to ‘dream big’ about what we most needed and wanted in a new academic building, the development of the Wedgewood Academic Center has been a collaborative endeavor involving substantial input from students, faculty and staff. The result of these conversations has led to a truly outstanding academic space which embodies our University’s student-centered commitments while reflecting the insight and creativity of the Belmont community.”
Designed and built by locally-owned companies Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) and R.C. Mathews, the total cost for the building is $78.4 million, bringing the University’s total investment in construction since 2000 to more than $470 million.Connecting on three floors to both the Inman Center and McWhorter Hall, the facility also features additional conference space to allow for both internal and external special event bookings.
As part of Belmont’s ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, the University is seeking Platinum-level LEED Certification for the Wedgewood Academic Center. The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria.
The new facility is incorporating a number of green features including multiple green roofs (including one for academic use next to a biology lab); garage recycling room and trash compactor; LED lighting and motion-sensors in all offices, classrooms and labs; a variable flow refrigerant HVAC system and a cutting edge chilled beam mechanical system in conjunction with a VAV system throughout the building.