New building set to open this fall semester is a game changer.

The University of Florida held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Chemistry/Chemical Biology Building at the corner of University Avenue and Buckman Drive on Oct. 10, 2014. Less than a year later, on Sept. 11, 2015, Skanska, the construction company building the facility, and the University of Florida sponsored a beam signing and topping out ceremony on the construction site.

“Topping out is a tradition in construction and generally relates to installing the last and highest beam in the building,” says UF’s Frank Javaheri, senior project manager for the building. “It is a mini goal within the major goal and a reminder that this portion of the milestone is completed.”

Hundreds showed up to leave their signature on the one-ton beam that has been placed on the tallest portion of the building. Guests, including workers, faculty, staff, students, and alumni, also signed two columns on the ground floor. Psychology and anthropology alumnus Jorge Quintana ’15 signed the beam and columns and said, “What a great opportunity this is. I hope my children will someday attend UF, and I’ll be able to say I’ve literally left my mark on the university.”

An aerial view of the new chemistry building and two large yellow cranes.
A bird’s eye view of the early construction courtesy of chemistry professor Phil Brucat.
When completed next June, the $67 million facility will provide 110,493 square feet of space for undergraduate and graduate education, including two floors devoted to chemical biology and chemical synthesis, which will facilitate collaboration with the medical school and the college of engineering on drug discovery, according to Professor William Dolbier, chair of the Department of Chemistry.

image of unfinished campus buildingWell insulated, the new Chemistry/Chemical Biological Building will be LEED gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.Scott Harper

“Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build.”

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David Richardson says he is having the best year of his 30-year career at UF, largely because of this new construction. Richardson, a chemistry professor, has long advocated for a state-of-the-art building to replace Leigh Hall built in 1927. During the ceremony, he thanked the workers and said, “Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build. Where you are sitting now will become a major hub for research, learning, and innovation at the University of Florida.”

Naming opportunities for classrooms, labs, and other spaces in the new Chemistry/Chemical Biology Building are still available. If you would like to leave a legacy for future generations in this spectacular structure, go to UF-CLAS Naming Opportunities or contact Ashley Rodriquez.


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Chemistry/Chemical Biology Building Fund

Dean’s Fund for Excellence