Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

New KU research facility construction on fast track

December 29, 2004


The race is on to finish a new Kansas University research building by the end of 2005.

The building must be completed and occupied by the end of the year for KU to capitalize on additional federal research dollars.

So far, things are going as planned to meet the deadline.

"It's on schedule and on budget," said Warren Corman, university architect. "Fast-tracking is not easy."

Site work began on the Multidisciplinary Research Building in October. Typically, a building of this scale and cost -- 106,000 square feet and $40 million -- would take about two years to construct, Corman said.

KU this week produced architectural renderings of the building. The building will be on west campus, near the Simons Biosciences Research Laboratories. J.E. Dunn of Kansas City, Mo., is the contractor.

Corman said the basement and foundation should be completed by the end of January.

Occupying the facility by the end of next year would allow KU to include the facility in its research investments for 2005, said George Wilson, associate vice provost for research. KU in 2006 will renegotiate the percentage of grants it receives for administration and infrastructure on federal research grants, and the university investment plays a large role in determining the percentage.

KU currently receives an additional 44.5 percent on its federal research grants for infrastructure. Wilson estimated adding the Multidisciplinary Research Building during 2005 could result in a 2 percent increase, translating into several million dollars a year.

Kansas University this week produced renderings of the research
building planned for its west campus.

Kansas University this week produced renderings of the research building planned for its west campus.

"It makes a big difference," Wilson said. "Because of the schedule, if we start to fall behind, it's serious."

The building was designed much differently than most KU research buildings. In traditional research facilities, labs are in hallways, with faculty offices inside them or next to them.

In KU's research building, labs will be along two hallways, but offices will be congregated at one end of the building. The space at the other end of the facility and between the hallways will be shared to foster discussion among colleagues from different disciplines.

Plans call for the building to be occupied by geologists, engineers, biologists, pharmacists and chemists. "When this kind of thing works, it can be very, very productive," Wilson said. "It tends to open up new areas, and people start to think in totally different ways."

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