New Rivier science center gets city approval

NASHUA — City planners on Thursday approved the construction of a new two-story science center at Rivier University.

Sister Paula Marie Buley, president of the university, said the science building is part of the school’s strategic initiative focusing on innovation in the sciences, and its goal to partner and promote Nashua’s technology hub.

The new science center, which is replacing Mendel Hall, is the second phase of Rivier University’s Vision 2020 improvement project for the eastern part of the campus.

The 60-year-old Mendel Hall has already been demolished in preparation for the construction of the new building at 436 South Main St.; the old St. Joseph’s Hall has also been razed.

“The new science center will be built on this site. It is a great location on the campus,” Tim Maness with Derck and Edson Associates of Pennsylvania told the Nashua City Planning Board.

Maness said his firm met with neighbors this week to address some of their concerns, and agreed to leave an existing stockade fence and install a second fence to prevent students from crossing onto their property.

The two-story, 35,000 square feet building will include an outdoor classroom and exterior rain garden. It will integrate biology, biotechnology, chemistry and physics with collaboration space and a visible learning environment with large windows, according to the plans.

“The new facility will be a major update compared to Mendel Hall and will provide needed improvements to the university’s instructional space,” Linda McGhee, the city’s deputy planning manager wrote in a memo to the board.

“The building will house eight labs, lab prep spaces, two classrooms, offices and common spaces for student gatherings.”

The board unanimously approved a conditional use permit and site plan application, paving the way for construction to begin on the new science building. An existing driveway on the parcel will be removed as part of the project, which Maness says will ultimately improve pedestrian access.

“So now we are creating a pedestrian zone,” he said, adding the existing volleyball court will remain nearby.

The third phase of Vision 2020 includes a proposed gymnasium addition to the Muldoon Fitness Center.

The first phase, which has already broken ground, is a new athletic pavilion with lockers, restrooms, storage and training areas, as well as improvements to Raider Diamond such as bleachers, dugouts, bullpens, a press box and netting.

“Thank you for making such a beautiful campus and working with the sciences,” Edward Weber, planning board member, told university representatives.

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