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News Release

Groundbreaking for 11th Major Engineering and Technology Building at UC San Diego

Building dedicaiton sign
The UC San Diego community broke ground on the Structural and Materials Engineering Building on October 24, 2008.
San Diego, CA, November 05, 2008 --The UC San Diego community broke ground on the Structural and Materials Engineering Building on October 24. The building will be the home of two Jacobs School of Engineering departments—Structural Engineering and NanoEngineering—and provide studios and additional facilities for UC San Diego’s Department of Visual Arts.  With 110,000 assignable square feet, the building will offer office and laboratory space for 45 faculty serving 1,000 students. Designed to LEED silver standards, it is the 11th major engineering and technology building on the UC San Diego campus. Construction on the $71 million state funded project began in July 2008, when crews began prepping the site by tearing down the old office of graduate studies building.

  “This new building will house a mix of structural engineers, nanoengineers and artists…and I am looking forward to the results,” said Frieder Seible, Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering, referring to a series of Bauhaus-inspired design choices that will place both engineers and artists on each floor. The building will also include exhibition and performance spaces designed to encourage interaction between the different disciplines.

After painting a verbal picture of the new building, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Paul Drake said to the more than 200 people in attendance, “I look forward to joining you in 2010 for the building opening.”

Engineering research to be pursued in the new building includes:

*New materials for applications such as solar trees

*Visualization tools to enable nanoscience and structural engineering, and advance medical devices and diagnosis

*Nanosensors for healthcare, environmental and structural monitoring

*Visualization and preservation of precious masterpieces through the Center for Interdisciplinary Science in Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3)

The building is also notable for what it will not contain—a large server room. As a part of the campus’ efforts to build an efficient cyberinfrastructure, the heavy duty computational needs of the researchers working in the building will be handled outside the building, primarily at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) which recently opened a new building wing.

Tradition-Breaking Groundbreaking

Sun god with shovel
UC San Diego's Sun God shoveled dirt at the ground breaking for the Structural and Materials Engineering Building.

Instead of golden shovels and hard hats, a wood-pulley-and-rope robot threw the first shovel of dirt at the October 24 groundbreaking. Josh Miller and Michael Sankur, a pair of mechanical engineering (MAE) graduate students at the Jacobs School, built the robot. Nathan Delson, the director of the MAE Design Center provided supplies and guidance.

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MAE graduate students Josh Miller and Michael Sankur built the robot that tossed the first shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking. Nathan Delson, the director of the MAE Design Center provided supplies and guidance.
The groundbreaking attendees also experienced a “nano poem” which, like the research and art slated to pour out of the new building, reflects on the relationships between humans, machines, and nature. Students in white lab coats from Ricardo Dominguez’s Verbal performance and Brett Stalbaum’s Locative Media classes weaved their way through the crowd while delivering the nano poem, “The Absence of Field,” by Amy Sara Carroll from the University of Michigan. Professors Carrol, Dominguez and Dr. Ze provided additional voices.
Frieder Seible and bridge students
The UC San Diego community broke ground on the Structural and Materials Engineering Building on October 24, 2008.

Coaxed out of entropy into the space of the audience, the nano poem serves as a metaphor for the manner in which nano-machines and materials are produced by coaxing molecules to self-organize, explained Jacobs School Dean Frieder Seible. As he spoke from the stage set up on the construction site, members of the Jacobs School’s student chapter of the Society of Civil and Structural Engineers assembled an award-winning bridge behind him.

Dean Seible thanked all who served with him on building advisory committee including the chairs of the three departments that will be most using the building most heavily: Gil Hegemier professor and chair of Structural Engineering; Ken Vecchio professor and chair of NanoEngineering, and Adriene Jenik professor and chair, Visual Arts.

Concrete Canoe UC San Diego
The UC San Diego's concrete canoe contingent came out to celebrate the Structural and Materials Engineering Building on October 24, 2008 groundbreaking.


Structural and Materials Engineering Building at UC San Diego
Architects: Miller|Hull Partnership and Safdie Rabines.
General contractor: Mortenson Construction


Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering