New MCS&E building gets a name: Austin E. Knowlton Center

Announcement made during Bold + Gold Fest. groundbreaking


Exponent Staff

Sixteen people armed with brand new shovels broke ground on the new Math and Computer Science building at this years Bold and Gold Festival.

Among those breaking ground was the mayor of Berea, the architect of the project, the head builder, and about a dozen major donors along with Bob Helmer, president of Baldwin Wallace University.

Jesse Kucewicz
Baldwin Wallace President Bob Helmer and 10 donors broke ground on BW’s first new academic building in 40 years
during the Oct. 5 Bold + Gold Festival.
Jesse Kucewicz
University Relations
As part of the groundbreaking ceremony during the Bold + Gold Festival, students,
alumni and friends were able to sign a beam that will become part of the new center.

Over “2,000 people…a lot of alumni, a lot of neighbors, students, faculty, and staff” were in attendance, said Helmer, as the official name was announced and construction officially began on the project.

“The Austin E. Knowlton Center” announced Helmer at the event; a banner unfurled revealing a portrait of Knowlton, a late architect who’s construction firm designed hundreds of school buildings and libraries during his lifetime.

Joined on stage with Helmer at the event was Ed Diller, one of the four trustees of the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation, to commemorate the event.

The new building is named in Knowlton’s honor after the foundation donated an $8 million grant to help fund the $25 million dollar construction.

The foundation has supported the school in the past through scholarship donations for students, and through this relationship the school knew the foundation may be interested in a larger naming grant, said Helmer.

“We’ve been talking to the Knowlton Foundation for a couple of years about Baldwin Wallace,” said Helmer. “They’ve given us some scholarship support for our students and that’s great. Then early in the summer I approached them to see if they’d have an interest in a major gift, a naming gift for the building. I had a lot of conversations with them and they decided ‘yes, we’d like that.’”

After a number of design changes and disagreements with Berea City Council, the final version was approved and the location changed from the corner of Front Street and Fifth Street to where Ward Hall sat before being demolished over the summer.

The new building will accommodate recent growth in STEM programs at Baldwin Wallace and provide the “state of the art facilities for students that study those areas,” said Dick Fletcher, senior vice president. “Math, Computer Science, Engineering, Physics — they require some special things that enable them to do the good work that we want them to do.”

The final building will be “two stories, with no basement, but 55,000 square feet,” said Fletcher. “But the stories are about 16- to 17-feet tall. It will almost be the same height as Telfer Hall.”

According to Dan Karp, assistant vice president of University Relations, the new facilities will match the quality of teaching students experience at BW.

“We are already getting attention because of the quality of teaching, but now that we can match the facilities to the quality of teaching we expect they will be able to serve more students,” said Karp, “and it will make it easier for them to choose BW.”

Along with demolishing Ward Hall over the summer, the university tore down a number of empty houses along Front and Fifth Street on North Campus.

An extension of the Arboretum, a purposefully varied tree area located behind the Observatory, will be extended to the corner along with a “Northern Gateway,” said Karp, similar to the archway currently on the corner of Bagley and Front street.

“So imagine a nice treed corner that looks a lot like the other corner at Bagley and Front,” said Karp. “Set back, nice trees, gateway, pathway, but then there will be a parking lot closer to the CIG, which will have a tremendous amount more parking which we need on North campus.”

The extended arboretum and gateway will be “a nice place to hang out” said Karp, “But you’ll be able to walk right from that corner and cut all the way across right into North Quad.”

The groundbreaking ceremony signified the beginning of construction, with the building expected to open in January 2021.