Valencia College and University of Central Florida officials dedicated the newest building on Valencia’s Osceola Campus today — marking the expansion of UCF and Valencia’s partnership in the county.

“This campus is less than half built,” said Valencia College President Sandy Shugart, adding that the Kissimmee campus will continue to expand. “We’re in chapter 5 of a 10- or 12-chapter story.”

At 150,000 square feet, Building 4 is the largest building on any Valencia campus. In addition to classrooms, the four-story building houses the campus library, bookstore, 10 science labs, 18 classrooms, math and computer labs, the campus cafeteria and a coffee bar.

“Education transforms lives and we at UCF are thrilled at the benefits this building will bring to Osceola County in the years ahead,” Dr. John C. Hitt, president of UCF, told the assembled crowd.

Designed by architectural firm Hunton-Brady and built by contractor Clancy & Theys, Building 4 cost $35 million in construction costs. UCF, which will share the building, contributed $7.5 million. In addition to the use of classrooms, UCF will also have 18 offices for faculty and administrative staff in Building 4.

UCF, which operates a regional campus at Valencia’s Osceola Campus, already offers a handful of degrees at the Kissimmee campus, ranging from business to political science. With this expanded presence on the Osceola campus, UCF plans to add a diverse variety of bachelor’s degrees to the Osceola campus by fall 2013, including degrees in biomedical science, criminal justice, psychology, public administration and health services administration. This will be the first time that UCF has offered a degree in biomedical science at one of its regional campuses.

And at a time when state officials are urging more students to study STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – Valencia’s new Osceola building will enable campus officials to offer more classes in biology, chemistry and physics. The new labs include three anatomy and physiology labs, three biology labs, two chemistry labs, one microbiology lab and one physics lab.

The building marks a sharp departure from earlier classroom buildings on the campus. The outdoor and indoor spaces — and even hallways — were designed to provide meeting and study space for students. Courtyards provide shade and places for students to relax, while the library features a huge reading room with windows that overlook the campus. Architect Maurizio Maso, who designed the building, said the vision for Building 4 emerged from a meeting with Shugart.  “He said the architecture should be soaring, inspiring and grounded — and that if Osceola Campus is a village, Building 4 should be the cathedral.”

The building, which opened for classes in January, has quickly become the center of student life for the 12,000 students who take classes at the Kissimmee campus.