LAKELAND, Fla. - From I-4 it looks like a giant, steel football, but inside Florida Polytechnic's signature building you'll find something to admire.
The head of construction for the state's 12th university gave reporters a tour Wednesday of what they're calling the Innovative Science and Technology building that will house all of the school's classrooms, labs, offices, and lecture halls.
"This is actually not only an architectural icon but an engineering marvel," said Pete Karamitsanis, who oversees the school's construction.
Despite 61 rain days, the construction is on pace to be finished by next summer when the first class of students will arrive for the inaugural semester at the STEM school.
It cost $13 million just for the design by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava whose only other major project in this country is the eye-catching Milwaukee Art Museum.
The price tag to actually build Florida Poly is around $100 million.
While critics may question whether it's over the top, Chief Operating Officer Ava Parker said it sends a message to students. "For folks who thinks it's too much, I'd like for you to think outside the box and know that if we're going to build an innovative institution it's great to have a signature building that's also innovative," she said.
Florida Poly also celebrated a big milestone on Wednesday with the opening of the admissions building, the first facility to open on campus.
"To be able to come on campus now and to greet families and to see future students and to show what our university is going to be like is a huge milestone for us," Park said.
So far, the university has received 1,600 applications. They've already accepted the first 100 students of the 500 they'll enroll by next fall.
Florida Poly won't be an accredited university until 2016 at the earliest, after they graduate the first class.
"I think that students want to be a part of a university that's different and they understand that we will be accredited," she said.