University of Maryland faculty, alumni and students joined state officials Friday to dedicate the new A. James Clark Hall, which boasts 184,000 square feet of facilities for this university's bioengineering department.
"This is the place where innovation in different engineering disciplines will take place," university President Wallace Loh said. "This is the place where especially innovation as applied to medicine to improve human health will take place. And this is the place where all of these innovations will propel the economy of Maryland."
More than 400 people attended the dedication, including members of the Clark family, members of the Board of Regents and members of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation's Board of Trustees, university spokesman Leon Tune said. Guests gathered in the building's forum, a room that will soon host national and international conferences, seminars and lectures dedicated to engineering.
Laboratories occupy almost 40,000 square feet of the building's space. The new hall — set to be open for spring classes — will offer a prototyping/fabrication lab, which produces advanced manufacturing and 3-D printing for students. Flex classrooms offer faculty the option of giving lecture-style or small group instruction as tables easily transform into rows.
"Clark Hall will undoubtedly grow our economy by fueling new innovation and partnerships," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a video message. "These innovations save lives and fuel jobs, benefiting all Marylanders."
Students will have 6,800 square feet to collaborate at the Leidos Innovation Lab on the first floor. The lab features movable workbenches, overhead utilities and digital displays, creating a space where students can collaborate on research and other projects.
"I think it brings so many more resources with the Leidos lab," said Manasi Pukazhenthi, a senior electrical engineering major. "We have so many more things to give to students so they can create for the future of basically the world."
The fifth floor is dedicated to research facilities for the bioengineering department and the new Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices. Fischell, who graduated from this university in 1953, has more than 200 medical patents and established the school's bioengineering department.
"It's just going to be a great thing for the scientists and engineers who work here to make medical devices to help mankind," Fischell said.
About 3,500 faculty, staff and students are projected to walk through the doors of Clark Hall each day, Tune said. Loh lauded the building for its design, which he said communicates the values of "excellence, innovation, collaboration and transformation" that Clark embodied in his life.
"The design of buildings shape human behavior," Loh said. "People who live and work in these facilities absorb the qualities of that building."
The building is named after Alfred James Clark, a 1950 graduate of the university and owner of Clark Construction Group. During the ceremony, Courtney Clark Pastrick, daughter of James Clark and board chair of the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, said her father was passionate about supporting students.
"Throughout his life, my father made investing in students at the University of Maryland and the Washington D.C. area his top priority," Pastrick said. "He believed that by connecting effort with opportunity, we can transform the future. The next A. James Clark Hall will do just that. It will connect hard work of all of students and faculty, with new opportunities through state-of-the-art facilities."
Funding for the building came from various sources, including $146.5 million from the state, about $15 million from Clark before his death in 2015 and about $6 million from Fischell.
This university announced in October that it would receive a $219.5 million donation from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation. The investment — which will be paid out over the next decade — will go toward various need-based scholarships, programs, graduate fellowships and developments for this university and its engineering school.
Roshan Talagala, a senior electrical engineering major, volunteered to give tours at the event. Talagala expressed excitement at the research opportunities the new building will offer.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for research," Talagala said. "Classrooms, collaborative labs and research spaces will provide a lot of new ways for new engineering students to get involved in bioengineering."