Every square foot of floor in the new Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC) is built, and construction crews now are adding the conduits, pipes and wires needed to create an adaptable new space for research and scholarly work at University of Idaho.
U of I President Chuck Staben and leaders from Idaho National Laboratory, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory and U of I’s Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene centers got an up-close preview of the building in progress on Feb. 4.
“I was impressed by the potential the IRIC has for fostering interdisciplinary research,” said Mark Peters, director of the Idaho National Laboratory. “The IRIC building will be a real asset for solving problems and addressing challenges in Idaho and beyond. We’re excited about the potential for collaboration with research endeavors in the future.”
Colin Okada of Hoffman Construction and U of I Facilities team members led the tour, emphasizing the features that will make the building flexible to accommodate a variety of projects and people. IRIC features customizable lab space and a panelized floor system, so it’s easy to reconfigure for different needs.
“It can serve pretty much any flavor of research,” Okada said.
IRIC is also built with collaboration in mind. Some of the building’s lower-story walls open to the outdoors, creating space for events and presentations in nice weather. Oversized stairs serve as informal seating, and open spaces encourage interaction. A three-story atrium on the far west side, facing the campus mall, provides a sense of flow and connectedness.
Enormous spans of windows are already in place on the building’s south side, allowing natural light into what will soon be work and meeting spaces. This is one of the energy efficiency and human health features of the IRIC, which is targeting LEED Gold certification from the Green Building Council.
U of I construction manager Richard Rader said construction is on schedule, with expected completion in fall 2016 and research teams moving in not long after.
“The IRIC building will be a home for 21st-century research at U of I,” Staben said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the discovery and innovation that comes out of work at this facility.”