The University of Kentucky's Davis Marksbury building, part of the UK College of Engineering's "Digital Village," was formally dedicated October 20, 2011, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and public tour of the building.
Among those in attendance were College of Engineering Dean Tom Lester, UK President Eli Capilouto, lead donor Davis Marksbury, former UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr., Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, donors James Hardymon and James McDonald, and representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The building officially opened earlier this year, and was certified as a LEED Gold building in August by the USGBC, making it the first building at UK to receive a LEED certification. LEED, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the USGBC's leading rating system for designing and constructing the world's greenest, most energy efficient and high performing buildings.
"This building is a symbol by the institution that solar and other alternative sources of energy are going to have a major role to play in energy production," said Dean Lester. "It demonstrates a commitment of the university and the college for sustainable solutions, not only for research buildings, but to construction and to life in general. And given the College of Engineering's role as a leader in advancing environmental-related research in efficient energy production, it is extremely appropriate that the Davis Marksbury Building — a building dedicated to engineering and computer science research — is not only the first LEED certified building on UK's campus, but a Gold-certified building as well."
Named for College of Engineering alumnus and lead donor Davis Marksbury, the three-story, 45,014-gross-square-foot building includes photovoltaic collectors on the roof to convert sunlight into electrical power to help serve the building and provide research opportunities. The first floor houses an administrative suite, an auditorium that seats up to 100, a visualization lounge and media suite, and a computer lab. The second and third floors house hard and soft laboratories for computer-program development and research, as well as faculty offices. The third floor also houses a penthouse that contains air-handling equipment for the building.
The building is now home to the UK Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, as well as the departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Funding for the project was announced in Dec. 2008, after the Marksbury Family Foundation, created by Davis and Beverly Marksbury, contributed $6 million to the project. An additional $2 million gift for the building was provided by alumnus James Hardymon, former chair of the UK Board of Trustees and the primary donor for the construction of the Hardymon Building, which was the first phase of the UK Digital Village. Alumnus James McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Scientific Atlanta, gave $328,000 to the building project. All totaled, more than $8.3 million in private funding was given toward the construction of the facility, and the amount was then matched by the state's Research Challenge Trust Fund.
"As the university’s first LEED-certified Gold project and our first facility to be constructed solely using private support and matching funds from the state's Research Challenge Trust Fund, the Davis Marksbury Building represents a creative approach to addressing specific capital needs," said President Capilouto. "It provides new space for innovative, multidisciplinary research and is the type of facility our undergraduate and graduate students require to prepare for jobs in a 21st century economy."
Davis Marksbury has envisioned the building from the beginning as a place of discovery and innovation. At the groundbreaking in 2009, he said "I'm not sure what we're going to invent in the new building, but I can't wait to find out." Click here for a story by Kentucky Alumni magazine on Davis Marksbury.
A unique feature of the Marksbury Building is it contains no traditional classrooms. Rather, students and faculty utilize the building's generous lab space to conduct meaningful research through groundbreaking methods and new technologies. Whether they are "opening" fragile ancient texts while leaving them physically intact to building inexpensive, high-performing supercomputer clusters, the open design encourages collaboration among UK faculty and students, as well as other institutions across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
The Hardymon and Marksbury buildings currently comprise one-half of the future “quad” or "digital village" that will house high-tech research and teaching facilities, as well as offices for the faculty who will conduct that high-tech research and provide the classroom instruction. Former UK President Todd, who oversaw the construction of the Marksbury building, as well as the development and completion of the Hardymon building during his tenure at UK, looks forward to seeing further development of the UK Digital Village.
"When complete, the digital village will be UK's high-tech hub, a center of innovation, creativity and discovery that will be crucial to helping Kentucky create a thriving, knowledge-based economy."
"If you want to make a difference, and you have the opportunity to make a difference, what better place could there be than at the University of Kentucky?" said Marksbury. "We have the best and brightest right here. I want to be a part of success. I want to help create success."