FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the scenic campus of Florida Gulf Coast University, students are able to take in a small sample of the trees, water, and wildlife that make up Southwest Florida's ecosystem. Now, after years of anticipation, students will get a chance to view that sample through a hands-on experience.
“We’ve been anxiously waiting for this week, tomorrow we start moving faculty and staff into the new building and that’s really when the building comes alive," explains Greg Tolley, the Executive Director of FGCU's Water School. It's now one of the biggest buildings on campus.
Here's a breakdown of some of the facts about the new building:
- $57.9M total project budget
- 4-story building
- 117,000 gross square feet
- ~58,600 square feet of research lab space
- ~23,400 square feet of classroom space
- ~15,000 square feet of teaching lab space
- ~9,000 square feet of office space
- ~4,000 square feet of study space
But Tolley says it's what will be taught within the walls of the building that truly gives it life.
“Whether it’s red tide or blue-green algae, we look at the toxins it produces - we look at sea level rise, we look at how climate change is impacting hurricanes and storms," says Tolley.
“There’s a lot of different things that we’re involved in but it’s all embedded in what we think the needs are in this community.”
Ella Guedouar is a graduate student with a passion for the environment that runs deep. It was FGCU's "environmental bubble", as she calls it, plus the construction of the new facility that played a role in her wanting to stay an Eagle.
“I saw this water school coming to life and that was the department I wanted to go into, and they were saying how many resources I would have access to as a student with this water school and I stayed,” says Guedouar.
“There’s this big opportunity for collaboration to take place, that way we can make a difference in the local community, so that’s what I’m most excited about.”