New Construction

STEAM Center Construction at University of St. Thomas Underway

At the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., construction is underway on a new centralized home for STEAM education. The Schoenecker Center will stand five stories and cover more than 130,000 square feet to integrate the school’s art, science, engineering and innovation programs, according to the university website. Design-build contractor McGough broke ground on the project in May, and construction is scheduled for completion during the spring semester of 2024.

The new facility will include amenities like a high bay for engineering, an emerging media newsroom and classrooms, science labs and offices, an art gallery, rehearsal and performance space for choral and instrumental groups, flex space for collaboration and group work, and a café with a community area.

The $110-million complex was named in honor of donors Guy and Barbara Schoenecker and aims to offer an inclusive approach to interdisciplinary education, according to a university news release. “This building is actually not about contradictions, but an ideal,” said Dean Don Weinkauf of the School of Engineering. “Forward-thinking students thrive at St. Thomas because they come with something more. They come with what I would call an ‘and’ spirit. Great at mathematics and athletics. Great at playing music and designing bridges.”

According to a November 2021 news story announcing the project, the building will house three distinct academic areas: Arts, Engineering and Sciences. It will also play home to the university Center for Artificial Intelligence, the Center for Data Science and the Center for Water Justice. It will also provide space to local K–12 schools and community groups for meetings and performances.

“What research is telling us, what our industry partners are telling us, is that they need graduates who have broad knowledge, who are flexible thinkers and who are used to working with different fields and different ideas,” said University President Julie Sullivan. “That’s exactly what you will see when you step through the doors of the Schoenecker Center.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].