Building marks first for UK



By Cassidy Myers

While some students were in their warm beds or battling snowy conditions Monday morning, one UK building marked an important point in its construction. 

UK President Lee Todd, College of Engineering Dean Thomas Lester, UK officials and about 40 onlookers crowded around an electric heater to watch the final steel I-beam being placed atop the structural skeleton of the Davis Marksbury Building on the corner of Rose and Maxwell streets.

The gathering marked the pinnacle of the building’s construction.

Lester said the topping-out ceremony for the building, in the midst of falling temperatures and falling snow, was symbolic of what the new engineering building represents — progress in the face of adversity.

“It’s ironic that even in rotten weather and rotten economic times, we can still improve,” Lester said.

The building will be part of UK’s digital village and will be home to the UK Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. It will also be the first UK building to be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, according to a UK news release.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system is an internationally-recognized certification system that gives verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance in areas including energy savings, water efficiency and CO2 emissions reduction, according to the organization’s Web site.

Davis Marksbury, who the building is named after, is the lead donor for the $18.6 million, 45,000-square-foot building.

Marksbury, an entrepreneur and UK College of Engineering graduate, said he was happy to give back to his alma mater and his hometown.

“I was born here in Lexington and it’s good to give back,” he said. “The purpose for the building is innovation and economic development, and we are aimed at research and development to invent something new.”

Before the beam was raised, Todd and Lester spoke to the small crowd on a makeshift stage outside one of the mobile trailers that surrounded the work site. Todd echoed Lester’s sentiments about the unlikelihood of such a building being constructed in the midst of a poor economy.

“I had no idea we’d see a structure like this in this period of time,” he said. “It shows we are still committed to moving forward even in the worst of times.”

All those in attendance were encouraged to sign the beam before a crane lifted it to the top of the building, following a celebratory signal for the beam to be elevated from Marksbury.

The beam was painted blue and marked with the College of Engineering logo and the day’s date.

Lester said the Marksbury Building is important to furthering the education of UK students and shows that the university is invested for the long haul.

“Good students and good faculty expect to have good facilities,” Lester said. “This demonstrates an institution’s confidence in its future.”