First Stage of Singer Hall Complete

For faculty and students in the biology, engineering, and psychology departments, this fall brings the excitement of a new building. So far, only the engineering department has moved into Singer Hall

The building, donated by the Lang family, named for  Maxine Frank Singer ’52, a molecular biologist and champion of ethics and diversity in science, is one of only a handful of science buildings in the United States named for a female scientist. The inside of the building also honors other female scientists from Swarthmore. The psychology seminar room is slated to be named for Carol Gilligan ’58, H’85, and the “front porch” of the biology department will be named in honor of Professor Amy Vollmer, a Swarthmore faculty member since 1989. 

Greg Brown, Swarthmore’s vice president for finance and administration, is excited about the new name.

 “The building is evolving into a testament to the vital role of women in the sciences,” he said. As the largest academic building on campus, Singer Hall will enable “pathbreaking research and hands-on teaching for generations to come.”

Marion Carr ’22 enjoys having class in the new space.

“The labs are spacious and have a lot of natural light, and the new engineering student lounge seems great for group projects. The classrooms are also spacious and comfortable.” 

Prior to the announcement of the new name, the building was known as BEP during its construction. For Carr, the new name is meaningful. “The rationale behind the name inspired me personally to change the way I refer to the building in conversation, and I think a lot of other community members share that sentiment.” 

For Daniel Quintans ’21, Singer Hall is a wonderful upgrade from the previous building. 

“It’s huge and the second floor looks amazing… all of us are still adapting to it, so we’re always lost, the professors included,” he said. “We only have one floor [for engineering]… and the floor itself is like twice as large as the previous building. There are also specified labs for each type of engineering, there’s like a robotics lab, electrics, lab, robotics lab, it has so many resources. It’s actually really cool, and I’m really excited to get into one of those labs.”

There is still work to be done before the biology and psychology departments can move in. Biology Department Chair Nick Kaplinsky said that only three biology labs have moved into Singer Hall so far, because many facilities in the building are not yet operational. After the biology department has moved, the old biology building, Martin Hall, will be renovated into new spaces for the computer science and the film and media studies departments. 

Carr also noted that there is still work to be done even in the more complete parts of the building, such as a lack of lighting in the bathrooms. In addition to such finishing details, construction is still in progress on Phase Two of Singer Hall, which includes building student common areas on the former site of Hicks Hall. The common area will host workspaces similar to those in the Science Center Commons, as well as event space. Phase Two is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2020. 

For members of the biology and psychology departments, there is much anticipation for new lab and classroom space. 

“The new building will give us access to modern facilities that will significantly expand opportunities for student research both in our courses as well as independent research projects,” wrote Kaplinsky. 

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