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Queens College upgrades labs

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Queens College officials celebrated this week the completion of a $30 million renovation that brought 11 new labs and a three-floor mosaic of a nucleus collision to one of the main science buildings on campus.

“This is truly a success,” Queens College President James Muyskens said. “We had a lot of really old labs, and many of our students come here specifically to study science, so we wanted state-of-the-art labs for them. We also have so many world-class faculty who need this.”

Officials held the ribbon-cutting for the three-story, 26,000-square-foot extension to Ira Remsen Hall Monday morning. The addition, which took two years to complete, includes seven teaching and four advanced research labs for the chemistry department as well as high-tech equipment that had been much needed in the 60-year-old building.

“We are extremely pleased that we will now be able to present for our students modern learning facilities in a safe and constructive environment,” said Robert Engel, dean of the division of mathematics and natural sciences at the college.

The renovation, which was funded with a $30 million state grant, is the first of three phases to modernize science facilities at Queens College. A 55,162-piece mosaic entitled “Electromag­netic Fall” runs throughout all three floors of the new area, including on the walls and columns.

“It was based on a subatomic collision,” said Carter Hodgkin, a Manhattan artist who created the piece. “You see the nucleus collision on the third floor, and the particles fall down to the other floors.”

The piece includes thousands of colorful glass tiles that cascade down walls and columns, forming loops and circular arrays of orbiting particles. College officials pointed out that, like the students and faculty of the college, the piece is multinational — the tiles come from Mexico, France, Italy and China.

“The piece is fitting for the sciences,” Muyskens said. “It’s like a digitized computer image.”

The second phase of the renovation projects will be completed by the fall of 2010 and will include new biology and chemistry research labs in Remsen. The third phase, which should be completed by the winter of 2011, will include the renovation of the Center of Biology and Natural Sciences in Remsen.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:48 pm, October 10, 2011
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