Architects hired for Science and Engineering Complex

A Philadelphia-based architectural firm has been hired by the University to design the initial phases of the most expensive project in University history – the Science and Engineering Complex – University officials said last week.

Ballinger Architects was selected out of 15 architectural firms from across the country to plan the initial concepts and programming for the complex, Alicia O’Neil, senior associate vice president for operations, said.

“Programming is the process of determining what will be located in the building – the architect goes out and interviews various users to determine what will be there and how it would lay out,” O’Neil said in October.

Ballinger Architects specializes in research, academic, health care and corporate buildings, according to the firm’s Web site. Company representatives did not return a request for comment.

O’Neil has previously said the firm chosen to design the SEC may not be the firm that ultimately builds the project.

Initial estimates put the total cost for the SEC around $300 million, which would make the project the most expensive in University history. Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said earlier this year that both Peg Barratt, dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and David Dolling, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, have been given fundraising targets for the current fiscal year to help fund the SEC.

Lehman, who will retire from his post in 2010, plans to stay on as an adviser to University President Steven Knapp, and says he is excited the University has chosen a firm which will keep the project on schedule. Calling programming a “critical phase” in the process, Lehman said the firm would make decisions about macro details for the building.

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