A milestone for new Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building

By Alex Branch

IREB
From left to right: State Rep. Charlie Geren, UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe, UNT System Regent Glen Whitley and President Michael R. Williams

University and community leaders marked a major milestone in the construction of the new Interdisciplinary Research and Education Building, with an event celebrating the 5-story building reaching its final height.

UNT Health Science Center President Michael R. Williams, new UNT System Chancellor Lesa Roe, state Rep. Charlie Geren, employees and students were among those who toured the building site Oct. 12 at a topping-off celebration.

The 173,000 square-foot building is designed to promote extraordinary teamwork and will house the UNT System College of Pharmacy, the planned Texas Christian University and UNTHSC School of Medicine and the North Texas Eye Research Institute.

Roe, who joined the UNT System this month after a 32-year career at NASA, said the new building will foster innovative science and education.

“Research was key to the work we did at NASA and it is just as critical here,” Roe said. “The design and construction of this new building is a reflection of the Health Science Center’s key values of collaboration and innovation.”

When it opens in 2018, the building housed inside an exterior of precast concrete, limestone walls and glass panels will be the first new research facility at UNTHSC in 14 years. About 53,000 square feet will be for research or instructional laboratories. It also will have classrooms, study space, multimedia learning areas, a café, student lounge and a 3,000-square-foot Healthcare Innovations Lab that will include a medical clinic and learning center with interactive kiosks for visitors.

Dr. Williams recalled that it was only a year ago that he attended a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction. Since then, more than 2 million pounds of rebar and more than 13,000 cubic yards of concrete have been installed or poured, according to Vaughn Construction.

The transformation of the work site is an extension of the larger transformation occurring at the university, Dr. Williams said.

“I’m talking about the transformation of our educators, our researchers and our health care leaders,” Dr. Williams said. “One key way we transform ourselves is through collaboration, and this building is designed to promote and support extraordinary teamwork.”

The building is funded in part by $80 million from the Texas Legislature, thanks to the advocacy of Senator Jane Nelson and Rep. Geren.

“When I first got elected there were a couple buildings up on the hill,” said Rep. Geren, who was elected in 2000. “Since that time, this will be the third building that we have opened. It truly has been an honor to work with the UNT System and the UNT Health Science Center for the last 17 years.”

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