UTEP Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB), Texas, United States of America


Interdisciplinary research

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has initiated construction of an interdisciplinary research building (IDRB) at 500 West University Avenue in Texas, US.

The building will support interdisciplinary research teams from colleges across the campus. It will be completed with an estimated investment of $85m.

The designs for the building were unveiled in August 2016, while construction is scheduled to be completed by late 2019.

Design and features of the interdisciplinary research building

The research building's north wing will have four floors, while the middle and south wings will have five. The building will be constructed in an area of 2.1 acres.

With a Bhutanese architectural design featuring drought-resistant vegetation, a canyon-like patio will bridge the research facility and an undergraduate learning centre. The building will also feature pedestrian paths and elevated walkways.

The research facility will have a total floor space of 158,800ft² including a functional floor space of 90,000ft². The first floor of the building will be partially underground and accommodate core facilities and heavy equipment.

The second floor, known as Main Street, will include a café, a visitor centre, galleries to showcase research, meeting rooms, and an 80-seat auditorium. The top three floors of the building will feature wet and dry labs, as well as interdisciplinary research suites.

Facilities at the IDRB

The IDRB will feature core research facilities including a vivarium, equipment and imaging suites, wet and dry labs, and special laboratory spaces. It will also include meeting rooms and storage offices.

The facility will be used to carry out advanced research and training in a number of disciplines. It will integrate research, teaching spaces, and institutional support, which will accommodate approximately 300 staff.

The research building will create various opportunities for graduate, undergraduate training, and community partners to form new projects.

Construction details

The research building is being constructed by replacing Burges and Barry buildings in the south-east corner of University Avenue and Sun Bowl Drive within sight of Interstate 10.

Pre-construction work commenced in August 2016, followed by the main work in April 2017.

The scope of construction includes expanding the thermal plant infrastructure, extending electrical and communication duct banks, and other anticipated site improvements.

Contractors involved with the Interdisciplinary Research Building

Houston-based architecture firm Perkins + Will was awarded a contract to provide an exterior design and landscaping plan for the building.

Hensel Phelps was awarded the construction contract in October 2016.

Financing

The interdisciplinary research building is estimated to be completed with an investment of $85m. The Texas Legislature will contribute $70m for the project under Tuition Revenue Bonds. The Regents provides $10m from the permanent university fund, and the UTEP will contribute the remaining $5m under the revenue financing system bonds.