Webster’s long-awaited electrical substation was switched on for the first time last weekend, enabling the university to move forward with several planned campus upgrades.
The substation at Garden Avenue and South Old Orchard Avenue came as a result of the university’s master plan to build additional buildings on campus. Several projects were required to be finished before the university moves on with additions to the home campus.
A left-turn lane on Edgar Road and the substation were completed over the summer; both were requirements needed to expand the east campus parking garage and start the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science Building (IDSB.)
“This is the third major project that ultimately will lead to the new IDSB,” a university Google+ post read. “The next project will be the east expansion of the Garden Park Plaza Parking Garage, which is needed to meet the additional Webster Groves campus’ parking requirements for the Interdisciplinary Science Building.”
The IDSB is Webster’s effort to upgrade their science programs by constructing a new building dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math and medicine based studies (STEMM). Currently, Webster’s science program works with some technology that is over 50 years old.
“Hands-on inquiry and student-driven research are not new to us and have been part of our science curriculum since the earliest days of Webster. Now we just need the science building to support and fuel that tradition into our next century,” Stroble said.
In 2013, the IDSB’s construction was delayed by Webster Groves’ city council. The council required the university to build and pay for the left turn lane, one of several disagreements between the university and the city council in the last two years.
In order to build the IDSB, the university had to construct a left turn lane on Edgar Road, build the electronic substation and the East Chiller Plant in the East Academic Building. The next project will be the expansion of the Garden Park Plaza Parking Garage on east campus, a requirement to meet the parking needs of the IDSB.
At a public hearing in 2014, Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble said without constructing the IDSB the university would be missing out on a huge market of students interested in STEMM.
“Our commitment to global excellence starts right here on our home campus,” Stroble said in a statement from Webster Today. “This not only benefits our region, but it will also strengthen our commitment to STEMM across the entire Webster University global network.”
In an Oct. 2014 statement on Webster Today, Webster University Provost Julian Schuster said of all the plans the administration has for the home campus, the IDSB is the most important.
“Nothing will be more defining than the Interdisciplinary Science Building,” Schuster said. “And it is not a building that we are erecting. We are building the dream for our next century.”
Making the substation the university’s new power source also takes the burden of Webster’s many electrical needs off the city.
Buildings on campus will be powered down temporarily in the coming weeks while they are connected to the new substation. The East Academic Building, H. Sam Priest Center, and Thompson Music Building were all switched over on Aug. 29.