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Project Narrative

Vintage Natural Science Building at WCU


The Case for a New Tom Apodaca Sciences Building at Western Carolina University

In order to meet regional and state workforce needs, WCU must provide efficient pathways for students to attain degrees in high demand areas such as science, technology, engineering, math, and healthcare. In the past decade, WCU has witnessed dramatic growth in STEM and Health Sciences programs, which has placed tremendous pressure on gateway Chemistry, Biology, and Physics courses. The growth in demand, along with the age of WCU's current Natural Science Building (NSB) has created an urgent need to replace the facility.

The current NSB was built in the 1970’s when WCU was home to just 6,100 total students, of whom only 15 were Nursing majors and none were Engineering majors. By comparison, WCU today enrolls almost 11,000 students, of whom roughly 2,300 are majoring in health and human science programs, almost 600 in technology and engineering programs, and approximately 500 in biological and physical science programs.The current NSB no longer provides adequate laboratory space for instruction and research and lacks the flexibility, technology, and collaboration space required for 21st century teaching. 

Project Scope

The project will consist of the staged demolition of the current building and the construction of a multi-storied building to replace the Natural Sciences Building (NSB). The new building is expected to provide approximately 185,000 square feet of lab and classroom space. The project will be phased to allow for the existing laboratories in NSB to stay operational until they are relocated to Phase I of the new building. After existing operations are relocated to Phase I, NSB will be demolished for the construction of Phase II. 

The new building will feature state-of-the-art lab equipment, collaborative space, and the inclusion of a steam micro-plant to carry capacity for up to four University buildings, thus taking capacity load off of our aging steam plant. Funding of $110 million was provided through the Connect NB Bond. 

See the Story

Recorded prior to the identification of funding for the NSB project, the video below tells the story of need for the new science buildling.

The Need for a New Science Facility at WCU from Western Carolina University on Vimeo.

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