Malachowsky Hall will open to general students and faculty starting in the spring semester.
Despite its ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening Friday, the doors to Malachowsky Hall remain locked for students attempting to use the new space.
The building is not yet finished, with most of the remaining construction occurring on the sixth and seventh floors, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando said. Building occupants are starting to move in, and during the move, only movers and contractors are allowed inside.
Students approached the new building Monday morning, often looking for new study spaces or to tour the locations of their spring classes, only to find the doors locked, accessible only by specific UFID credentials.
Manav Sanghvi, an 18-year-old computer science freshman, was among those students. He and two friends approached the building Monday — it was a quick walk from their dorms at Hume Hall — expecting a beautiful study spot that was closer than their usual trek to Marston Library.
“My one worry was that it would be too full during the first week it opened because everybody wanted to go see it,” Sanghvi said.
Instead, he was met with a virtually empty building, occupied only by building workers.
A worker inside the building said it was not yet open to students or non-authorized faculty members when a group of faculty from the College of Public Health & Health Professions approached the entrance.
A UF spokesperson was unable to explain why the building was closed or when it would be open.
Malachowsky is already slated to host a class in the spring Gerald Bissell, a 20-year-old electrical engineering sophomore, is registered in. Bissell said he was excited by the prospective use of the 263,000-square-foot space for student organizations.
But he worried that the building would be used primarily for offices, much like the Herbert Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence located across from the Reitz Union.
“At this point, a lot is just unknown on how the space will be utilized, at least from a student perspective,” he said.
Bissell tried to access Malachowsky Monday morning and was able to briefly see the inside of the building.
The new building is named for Chris Malachowsky, a UF alum and co-founder of NVIDIA, a computing and AI product company. Malachowsky and NVIDIA donated just under $60 million in 2020 toward developing HiPerGator, UF’s AI supercomputer powered by NVIDIA products.
Savannah Seaver, a 20-year-old aerospace engineering junior, also had limited success going inside through a back entrance of the building Monday — she was quickly ushered out by building workers. But her favorite part, based on what she saw, was the lighting accentuated by large windows and an open floor plan. She sees herself coming back to the building once it’s open to study, she said.
“At first, I didn’t really like it when it was under construction,” she said. “But now it’s really grown on me. I think it does match its vibe.”
The building’s metal paneled exterior differs from the rest of campus, containing none of the signature orange brick present in older buildings. While some people dislike how different Malachowsky looks, Dalton Reichenbach, a 19-year-old aerospace engineering freshman, said it reflects the technological advancements inside.
“I love how it sticks out,” he said. “It just feels like a new era of the school to me.”
Reichenbach was also kept from entering the building when he arrived to check it out Monday.
Certain students received a tour of the building and participated in a conversation between UF President Ben Sasse and NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang Friday during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to a university press release.
The ceremony was considered the building’s opening, based on the press release’s headline. Students who tried to enter were not warned that they would not be able to access the inside of the building yet, they said.
The $150 million building is the university’s newest addition of AI to its curricula, a part of a larger push to become an AI university. Malachowsky will house its namesake departments — computer and information science and electrical and computer engineering — as well as spaces for medicine and pharmacy.
AI has been a priority for Sasse since coming into the president’s office. In a February message to faculty and staff, he stressed the ever-changing nature of technology and that AI should be harnessed for research.
“During a time of such rapid change, we will need to ask anew first-principles questions about the purpose, duties, and opportunities in front of an institution like ours that has been blessed with so much,” he said in the statement.
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