Donors, alumni, faculty, administrators, and friends turned out on a blustery spring day to commemorate the groundbreaking of Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering on the Rutgers School of Engineering campus. Despite the rain and wind, those present at the May 6, 2016 event celebrated as engineering dean Tom Farris, Rutgers President Robert Barchi, Rutgers-New Brunswick chancellor Dick Edwards, and Richard N. Weeks planted shovels in the Earth and symbolically turned over a new era for the School of Engineering and an important step in moving the school forward.
“We are now in the midst of a dynamic era of innovation as we prepare students to step up and answer the demands of society’s most pressing needs,” said Farris. “As we at the School of Engineering take on this challenge, the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering will provide our students and faculty with vitally important facilities for state-of-the-art learning and research.”
According to President Barchi, the School of Engineering plays an important role in the university’s strategic plan, contributing to Rutger’s strength as a Big Ten school. Modern facilities with state-of-the-art labs and equipment are vital in attracting top students and faculty and forging industry partnerships.
The state-of-the-art, LEED-certified facility – the first Rutgers building to be named for an engineering alumnus – features collaborative workspaces, smart classrooms, laboratories for advanced manufacturing and environmentally sustainable resources and systems and dedicated student space. The 100,000-square-foot building, which will house the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is part of the Rutgers-New Brunswick redevelopment project outlined in the university’s strategic plan. It is the first structure to be built as part of a historic multi-year, multi-campus effort.
The Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering is named in honor of 1950 alumnus Richard N. Weeks, who chairs Weeks Marine, one of the leading marine construction, dredging and tunneling firms in the United States and Canada. Weeks Marine is headquartered in Cranford, New Jersey. Weeks donated $6 million, and another alumnus, who chose to remain anonymous, provided $4 million as part of a challenge grant. The building’s name also honors Weeks's father and son, both named Richard. Weeks’s son, Richard S. Weeks, serves as the company’s president. The total private support raised to date for the project is $24 million.
After graduating with a mechanical engineering degree in 1950, Weeks joined the family business, which began in 1919 as a stevedoring firm – loading and unloading cargo ships. During Weeks’s time with the company, it became one of the largest marine construction, dredging and tunneling organizations in North America.