The last remnants of Weber State’s Science Lab building, built in 1969, will be gone in about six weeks.
Exterior demolition of the Science Lab began Friday, and will last about two weeks. It will take another four weeks to haul away all the the debris, Allison Hess, public relations director, wrote in an email.
In preparation for the exterior demolition, the university’s Facilities Management rerouted utilities, including “chilled water lines that cool buildings across campus,” Hess said. This led to a brief lapse in air conditioning in some campus buildings.
“For minimum disruption, they began work on the fifth of July,” Hess said. “They cut chilled water lines and capped them, but a connection failed, so it took until Monday to complete the project, which left some buildings on campus without air conditioning on Monday afternoon. Everything was restored by Tuesday.”
Interior demolition was a longer-term project, lasting about three months, Hess said. This process started with hazardous material abatement, including the abatement of asbestos.
Materials in the building’s interior, such as wood and plaster board, were then removed. This prevents the steel and concrete in the structure from being mixed with other debris, so it can be more easily recycled, Hess said.
The Science Lab’s replacement, Tracy Hall Science Center, opened in fall 2016. Since then, the Science Lab housed Weber State’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences while Lindquist Hall was renovated. Lindquist Hall opened for classes in January 2019.
According to university materials, the building was in dire need of replacement.
The Science Lab was built during a construction boom in the 1960s, when baby boomers were headed to universities in droves. Facilities from this era have now “exceeded their useful lives,” according to a 2012 university fact sheet about the need for a new science building on campus.
“Major renovation (of these facilities) have been undertaken when practical,” the fact sheet said. “In other instances, structures have been razed when renovation costs approximated the cost of building new.”
“When I turned on the water faucets in the lab building, I never know what to expect. Sometimes there’s no water, sometimes it’s brown, sometimes it’s a strong burst of water or air. It really is startling,” said Lauren Johnson, a microbiology student, in a 2013 video about the building produced by Weber State.
According to the video, the bursts of water were strong enough to break glass beakers that science students often worked with in the building’s labs.
The university video also said the building was assessed as seismically unsound in engineering studies, potentially leading to collapse during an earthquake. This was especially concerning because the building was located less than 100 yards from a major fault.