Students, staff and professors got a first look at architecture and design plans for the new Integrated Research Innovation Center at an open house design forum, Wednesday.
The new building will be located between Brink Hall and the College of Natural Resources, and is scheduled to start construction in fall 2014.
Jack McIver, vice president of research and economic development, said the IRIC will be the first research building the University of Idaho has built since the early 2000s. He said the IRIC is designed to be a shared research laboratory between multiple departments for large-scale research projects.
“The concept of the building is to bring together groups of people working on problems,” McIver said. “We are looking at this as a different type of building, it is not owned by a department, it is not owned by a college, it is a university wide building.”
McIver said the IRIC is designed to have more open laboratories along with spaces for meeting and interaction.
“The idea is to keep people interacting, flowing together, talking together, working together, one way or another,” McIver said.
McIver said his department has started looking into what types of projects would be chosen to occupy space in the new research building.
“But we also want this as an incubation space for new types of projects that might not have a lot of money,” McIver said.
McIver said space in the new building will be used for major science research projects, which are expected to take a few years to complete.
“It is not permanent space, in the sense that anybody that moves in here is going to be there forever,” McIver said. “On the other hand, this is not going to be swapping people out on a yearly basis, that doesn’t make any sense either.”
McIver made clear to many science professors in attendance that IRIC space would serve as additional laboratory space for projects.
“The people that move in there are not giving up laboratory or other space that they already have, it’s not designed that way,” McIver said.
McIver said the research building is not designed to accommodate extreme projects. He said Tier 1 agents, like anthrax and Ebola, would not be allowed in the IRIC.
“Explosives are probably out for right now, for instance. At least intentional ones,” McIver said.
During the open forum, science professors expressed multiple concerns over the operation details of the new building.
Larry Forney, biological professor and director of IBEST, said he is concerned that splitting up a group into two laboratories would prevent students from learning from each other.
“It’s going to be a part of my research group that would be moving there, and the other space would be occupied by those left behind,” Forney said. “So the equipment in my lab would be divided how?”
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at email@example.com