New science building brings growth and opportunity

Thanks to the $110 million dollar Connect NB Bond, WCU has been able to drastically expand its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs with the new Apodaca Science Building.

Tom Apodaca, the name-sake for the new building, was a WCU graduate in the class of ‘80 and has continued to aid and better the WCU Community throughout his 14 years in the North Carolina Senate. Apodaca played a crucial role in the “NC Promise” tuition plan, which reduced the cost of tuition at WCU and two other UNC institutions to $500, and in WCU’s expansion of its engineering program to the Asheville-Hendersonville area.

The Apodaca building not only gives students 185,000 square feet of new labs and classroom space but allows them to learn within a twenty-first-century environment to better prepare them for their future careers in STEM and Health Science fields.

As the demand for STEM-related majors increased, WCU quickly outgrew its old Natural Science Building. Constructed in the 1970s, the NSB opened its doors when WCU’s student body was half the size it is today, and only fifteen of its students were nursing majors. As the student body grew, the building simply did not have the lab space or technology needed to properly educate students.

This is an artist’s rendering of what the quad area will look like upon completion of Phase II of the project.
Photo credit: Lord Aeck Sargent Architecture Firm

The Apodaca Building is only the first phase of the project. With Phase I complete, WCU can move onto Phase II, the demolition of the NSB.

“Phase II includes the demolition of the old natural science building and the construction of the quad area that includes landscape and hardscape areas also for instruction and gathering. It also includes a rework of the stair and entrance to the library,” said Joe Walker, director of facilities management.

Check out a photo story of the new Apodoca Science building here.