The rainy weather threatened to put a damper on the groundbreaking for Lone Star College-University Park's new Center for Science & Innovation, so the event moved inside - complete with indoor/outdoor carpeting, white lawn chairs and a make-shift flower box full of sand.
"The 'grass' is green; our shoes aren't muddy; I think it's perfect," said Dr. Veronique Tran, Dean of Math and Science, as she kicked off the ceremony in West Dining on April 28.
Lone Star College Chancellor Stephen C. Head, Trustee Ron Trowbridge, LSC-University Park President Shah Ardalan and Gary Machicek, vice president of Kirksey Architecture, were among the speakers who addressed the large audience.
The three-story, 50,000-square-foot building will provide students with a state-of-the-art learning environment and will encourage more students to consider STEM careers.
Due to open in Fall 2017, it will have 12 science labs for chemistry and biology, a geology-teaching wall, an observation deck for astronomy and an "innovation space" with a tutoring area.
Ardalan said the facility will meet a critical need for students who need the lab space.
"It is important to us to have this building," he said. "We made a promise ... that we will build the community's college. I think this is a great step in going forward and making this happen."
Funding of the $15.4 million construction project comes from the $485 million bond referendum approved by voters in 2014.
"We know that taxpayers and students are footing the bill for us, so we're very conscientious about our costs and keeping them reasonable and low. It's about access for students," Head said. "We cannot do this without community support; we just can't."
Several attendees praised the college for its successful, innovative indoor ceremony. One said it was the best she has attended.