CHICAGO, IL (September 22, 2014) — Just because construction was completed earlier this year on the new Nancy and G. Timothy Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, that doesn’t mean the work is done—not by a long shot.
At the center’s grand opening, Dr. G. Timothy Johnson, the North Park alumnus for whom the building was named, said, “Obviously the knowledge and skill base in the sciences is constantly exploding with new developments. So while the new science building at North Park is currently ‘state of the art,’ the building will have to be constantly updated to meet new challenges in teaching and research. However, the current core science faculty is outstanding and will, I am sure, be up to the task of keeping North Park’s science programs up to date in the years ahead.”
As a rule of thumb, academic science labs are generally updated every 40 years, said Jon Rienstra-Kiracofe, professor and chair of the chemistry department, who served as lead faculty liaison on the project. “We had a ‘wish list,’ and a vast majority of what we wanted to accomplish was achieved,” Rienstra-Kiracofe said. “We paid attention to make sure the space, facility, and infrastructure were built to incorporate changes for the future as well.”
Construction began in 2012, and the current building is impressive. The school was committed to environmental stewardship, and the university worked closely with longtime architectural partner, VOA Associates Inc., to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which establishes criteria for the construction of environmentally sustainable buildings.
LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, reduce waste sent to landfills during construction and operation, conserve energy and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. State-of-the-art equipment includes a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machine, which is rare for a school of North Park’s size. It is used in studying molecular structure. Often used in graduate study or in industry, having an NMR machine in the classroom is rare.
The building is about more than cutting edge technology, however. “The Johnson Center reflects North Park University’s commitment to educate the whole student, intellectually, personally, socially, and spiritually,” said North Park president David Parkyn. For example, University Ministries is also housed in the building. It is a befitting combination since Johnson, in addition to being a physician, also is an ordained Covenant minister.
Johnson and his wife, Nancy, cut the ceremonial ribbon on September 12, the first day of a three-day series of events. The first event was a Medicine and Media Symposium in Anderson Chapel. Johnson led a panel that included his former colleague, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, and former dean of Harvard Medical School Joseph Martin. The three thought-leaders discussed a variety of topics, including the role of media in health care, the state of health care in this country, and predictions for its future.
At a special dinner that night, Parkyn told the story of the dedication of Old Main, the first building on campus, 120 years ago this month. North Park’s leaders spoke then of “a work just beginning,” and Parkyn urged the crowd to “cast our vision beyond the horizon” and see the university as still “a work just beginning.”
Parkyn added, “Tonight is a turning point in the history of North Park. The university stands taller today than she has ever stood, because today she stands on your shoulders.”
For more coverage, visit the university website.