Suffolk County Community College Tuesday will open the first new academic building on the school's Selden campus in 44 years, marking a major investment in its rapidly growing life sciences department.
The $29.9 million building is being named for William J. Lindsay, the Suffolk County Legislature's presiding officer who died of lung cancer last year at age 67.
About 200 people, including elected officials, members of Lindsay's family and SCCC administrators and faculty, are expected to gather Tuesday morning on the Ammerman campus in Selden for the dedication.
"This building will enable our students to train on state-of-the-art equipment," said SCCC President Shawn McKay, who credited Lindsay with helping to secure the county-state funding for the project. "We are being innovative and responsive to the demands of the industry."
The 62,760-square-foot structure will help keep pace with the number of students flocking to life sciences disciplines such as biology, chemistry, environmental science and nursing, school officials said.
The college's enrollment in life science disciplines has risen exponentially in recent years, outgrowing the former building, said Rosa M. Gambier, chairwoman of the biology department.
The old life sciences building served some 4,700 students in the 2013-14 academic year, up from 2,700 in 2004-05.
"We are thrilled. It has been a long time coming and we have so many new ideas," Gambier said. "In the last three years, we could not meet demand because we didn't have the space."
Changes in science education -- more hands-on learning and group work than lectures and memorization -- also called for better lab facilities, she said.
The building will serve students looking to pursue careers in high-demand, allied health care fields such as nursing and physical therapy. Liberal arts students required to take science classes also will be served.
The building was designed by BBS Architects of Patchogue. It will house laboratories, lecture halls, classrooms, computer stations, meeting rooms and faculty offices. Among the features is a three-story glass atrium with a digital video wall made up of 16 46-inch LED ultra-narrow bezel monitors set up in a grid.
The building is LEED-certified, as required by the state university system, and has several elements of environmentally sustainable design. A solar energy roof will provide more than 60 percent of the building's electricity, saving about $48,000 per year, officials said.
Students can gather among gardens, a contained drainage system and storm water collection areas with native, drought-resistant vegetation. The architects say the building's design aims to encourage the study of nature.
The Ammerman campus is the oldest of SCCC's three locations and has by far the most students, with an enrollment of more than 14,000, according to the college. Other campuses are in Brentwood and Riverhead.
Nassau Community College in 2012 opened a $40-million life sciences building constructed from recycled materials. The 74,000-square-foot structure houses its growing nursing and chemistry departments.
Denise Lindsay Sullivan, an assistant superintendent in the Hampton Bays school district and the newest SCCC trustee, said naming the building for her late father is a fitting honor.
"He spent his life dedicated to working families, so it has so much meaning. Suffolk County Community College is the college for working families and that's why he believed in it so strongly," she said. "I just wish he was here to see it."