Parking Lot 10 was abuzz with administrators, staff and faculty alike as a small celebration occurred for the project launch of a new multidisciplinary research building at UC Riverside.
Modeled after the new Health Sciences Biomedical Research Facility at UC San Diego, the research building will cost approximately $120 million and seeks to provide a collaborative working space for new and current ladder-rank faculty from different disciplines.
“So the idea is, we’re going to bring people from different fields to work in the same building … and create an even more creative working environment,” Chancellor Kim Wilcox said in an interview. “We have a lot of great facilities on campus, but we need more and this is a chance to do that.”
The additional research building is designed to mesh with Wilcox’s plans to hire 300 faculty members over the next five years. Wilcox adds that there may be some movement between faculty members in different departments to aid complementary research.
Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget Maria Anguiano said the first step of the research building was to develop a detailed project, which includes addressing any building compatibility issues that may arise. “A desert climate (such as Riverside) requires very different types of materials perhaps compared to a building built next to an ocean,” Anguiano explained.
The university will be financing the overall costs of the building, whose location has yet to be determined. “The hope is the additional research funds being brought in from the National Science Foundation will help us pay the loan we’re taking out on this,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Michael Pazzani.
Some anticipated building projects include the addition of wet and dry labs, growth chambers used to grow plants and new classroom space. Other tentative plans will provide 150,000 square feet of space for 60 research groups, according to UCR Today.
As one of many event attendees, Chair of the Academic Senate Jose Wudka expressed curiosity over the new project launch, stating that, “it signifi(ed) that the campus is finally getting on a growth plan that is not haphazard, it’s a planned growth.” He alluded to the long spells of financial uncertainty for the UC and its impact on the growth of UCR over the years.
Despite a strong focus on faculty collaboration, Wilcox concluded that the research will serve to greatly benefit UCR students in the future. “It’s called the research building, but most of the people doing research in the building are going to be students, not faculty. Because for every professor, there’s lots of students working in the same building,” expressed Wilcox.