Construction of a new teaching, research and museum facility for the biological sciences was approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.

The $261 million project will bring together the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, now housed in Kraus Hall and the Ruthven Museums Building.

The museums of Anthropology, Natural History, Paleontology and Zoology also will move into the new space.

The 300,000-square-foot Biological Science Building will house the research laboratories, associated support functions, offices and classrooms of the two departments. Funding will be provided from LSA and Office of the Provost resources.

The building will sit adjacent to the Life Sciences Institute where North Hall and the Museums Annex currently exist. Those buildings will be demolished, pending approval by the regents. The new building also will have a connection to LSI to increase utilization of its dock.

“This new building will provide modern, 21st century facilities for our world-class biological science programs and museums,” said Susan A. Gelman, interim dean of LSA.  “Bringing these programs together under one roof will create exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching, research, and collaboration. It will also offer a richer experience for museum visitors.”

Laboratories within the building will be constructed in an open plan to allow for greater collaboration, increased flexibility and better space utilization.

In October 2013, the regents approved a plan to relocate the Army, Naval and Air Force Officer Education programs from North Hall to the Chemistry Building and Ruthven.

Following the relocation of the departments into the new biology building — expected in 2019 — the university anticipates renovating Kraus for the School of Kinesiology and expansion space for the School of Information. Once Kinesiology has been relocated to Kraus, the officer education programs will move into the current Kinesiology building with some additional space provided in the Central Campus Recreation Building.

“We are excited about the new opportunities this building offers to U-M students and faculty,” said Amy Harris, director of the Museum of Natural History. “We look forward to creating a museum experience that challenges, educates and inspires our audiences, both on campus and off.”

Over the next several years, as this plan moves forward, the university will evaluate the potential future use or demolition of Ruthven based on university needs.

University officials expect it will take five years to complete construction and relocation of all departments. The architectural firm of SmithGroupJJR and Ennead Architects will design the project, which is expected to create up to 256 on-site construction jobs.