On the way to the Idaho Commons on Line Street a new sign can be seen that states, “Site of Proposed Building” with the name “Integrated Research and Innovation Center” written on it, along with a rendering of the proposed building.
The IRIC is a proposed $50 million facility, funded through state and university sources, bonding and private donations, will become a contemporary research center with flexible laboratories, conference rooms, and advanced imaging and visualization equipment, according to Vice President of Research and Economic Development, John K. McIver.
McIver said it is designed to have faculty and students from various fields integrate research to find solutions for problems with climate, agriculture and fire, among other things.
He said that this center is desperately needed, and that current buildings are too old to keep up with the types of research the university is doing — research that needs specialized facilities.
The newest research facility is the Agricultural Biotechnology Building built in 2001.
He said the center would also allow the university to grow in research interests, which is limited by space available in current laboratories. The IRIC will not only be a modern research facility, but it will also be designed to keep up with the times, McIver said.
“The laboratories can expand and shrink,” he said. “There will be basic wet labs and basic dry labs and the core spaces will be flexible.”
McIver said the plan for the IRIC has been in the works for five years. They are just finishing up the preliminary design, and moving on to the engineering and construction part of the process.
McIver said it a number of people will be part of the design process, including deans, researchers, financiers and architects — even student architects.
“We want it to be efficient, to make it useful and flow well,” he said.
McIver said will be able to come together to talk about their work in certain spaces.
In a letter sent to possible donors, both President M. Duane Nellis and McIver said, “The complex problems we face as a state, nation and world can no longer be solved by one person in one discipline; they demand the insights and innovations of the talented researchers working together across disciplines.”
McIver said combining minds will help UI realize its potential.
Allison Griffith can be reached at arg-news.uidaho.edu