Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB)

"We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us"


-Winston Churchill

Welcome to the home page for UTEP’s new Interdisciplinary Research Building planning phase. This page has been developed in order to keep the UTEP community apprised of progress in planning this innovative facility that will provide critical space for researchers, students, and faculty to address some of society’s big issues through interdisciplinary research. This important new research facility will elevate UTEP’s research and training enterprise to a new level, and as quoted by Winston Churchill above, shape our research future. Funding of $85 million for this approximately 162,000 sq ft building was authorized by the Texas Legislature last year. Burges and Barry Halls have been demolished to make space for the new building. The outstanding architectural firm of Perkins+Will from Houston, TX was selected through a competitive process to design the building, and a UTEP planning committee, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, has been formed. President Diana Natalicio charged the planning committee with determining the optimal use of this proposed state-of-the-art facility, ensuring that the space is not “owned” by any one department or college, but instead will be occupied by interdisciplinary programs and teams from multiple colleges. The space has to not only accommodate current high visibility programs but be planned with enough flexibility to accommodate the research of the future. The attached pages and links will provide information relevant to the planning of the building and opportunities for the UTEP community to offer comments and ongoing input into the planning process. We look forward to groundbreaking for this new facility in early 2017. In the meantime, we have a lot of work to do.

Go Miners!

W.L. Hargrove
Chairman, IDRB Planning Committee
Director, Center for Environmental Resource Management



William L. Hargrove, Chairman
Director
Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM)
202 Kelly Hall
wlhargrove@utep.edu



Andrea Tirres
Interdisciplinary Network Manager
Office of Research & Sponsored Projects
710A Kelly Hall
Altirres2@utep.edu



Anupama Kaul
Professor and Associate Dean
College of Engineering
A-145 Engineering Building
akaul@utep.edu



Lawrence Cohn
Department of Psychology
118 Psychology Building
lcohn@utep.edu



Bruce Cushing
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Biological Sciences
2.118 Biosciences Research Building
bcushing@utep.edu



Ann Gates
Professor and Department Chair
Department of Computer Science
CCSB 3.1002
agates@utep.edu



Greg McNicol, Ex Officio
Associate VP
Facilities Management
3120 Sunbowl Drive
gmcnicol@utep.edu



Roberto Osegueda, Ex Officio
VP for Research
Office of Research & Sponsored Projects
209B Administration Building
Osegueda@utep.edu



Jorge Rosero
Graduate Student
Department of Mechanical Engineering
jarosero@miners.utep.edu



Cecilia Hinojosa
Graduate Student
Psychology Department
Cahinojosa2@miners.utep.edu









The Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB) will provide a platform for interdisciplinary research and training that advances:

  1. …our core values of Access plus Excellence by promoting unique interdisciplinary research opportunities that characterize the future, preparing our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students for intellectual endeavors of today, tomorrow and beyond; this building will be a model for other institutions to emulate and will serve as an attractor for the recruitment and support of world-class faculty. Student access to state-of-the-art interdisciplinary facilities will prepare them for addressing society’s “grand challenges”. This will make them more competitive with students from larger universities and improve their chances of career success, especially for underrepresented students.


  2. …our goal of becoming a Tier One Research University by opening opportunities for new and unrealized support for research, graduate and undergraduate training, and engagement of industry and community partners. Research is being driven more and more by “big” questions that require not only interdisciplinary approaches, but also large scale programs that can provide new and novel ways of asking questions and developing research. To compete, we need increased capacity to conduct interdisciplinary research, and to succeed, research must be linked with undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training. The IDRB will support a culture of interdisciplinary research and education that will expand participation of students, faculty, and partners in the research enterprise at UTEP.



  1. Be responsive to current and future priority interdisciplinary research programs, teams, and centers.
  2. Maintain flexibility and adaptability in lab and building design to support dynamic research priorities and trends.
  3. Plan and implement designs that will promote collaborative work, including meeting space, work space, lab space, office space, and their relationship to each other.
  4. Include open space for collegial interaction.
  5. Include high technology meeting, instructional, seminar, and conference space.
  6. Provide core facilities and shared resources that are essential for key IDR areas.
  7. Provide meeting areas with state-of-the-art multimedia in support of virtual collaborations.
  8. Provide reconfigurable areas that support different modes of collaborations (i.e. fixed and movable white boards, movable chairs and tables, etc.)
  9. Pursue architectural design that will promote experiential movement throughout the building to inspire interaction and innovation.
  10. Create space for visiting researchers.
  11. Include conversational pieces such as art, technology, and/or displays which highlight UTEP’s strengths.
  12. Include perspectives from all colleges and research centers at UTEP.
  13. Create a space, outside and inside, that is attractive and welcoming to visitors.
  14. Incorporate sustainability principles in the design and construction of the building.

Note: The Vision Statement and Guiding Principles will be used in at least 3 important ways:

  1. Planning and design decisions will be tied back to them.
  2. They will guide decisions related to allocation of resources.
  3. They will help shape the architects’ “Program of Requirements”.


Program of Requirements – in late July President Natalicio approved the detailed Program for the new building, a detailed document that describes the types of spaces to be included in the building and the square footage for each. The Executive Summary of the Program is presented here, followed by the detailed space summary.



First committee meeting; Introductions and President’s charge

Introduction of the architects and presentation by Perkins+Will

Eight focus groups were held in February, 2016. About 120 faculty representing the following current and future programs were invited to participate:

  • Environmental Science & Engineering Program
  • Sustainable water resources
  • Neuroscience
  • Health disparities/environmental health/biomedical research
  • Nanoscience/nanotechnology/advanced materials
  • Cybershare/cybersecurity
  • Border studies/border security
  • Other (with a focus on Colleges of Education, Business, and Liberal Arts)

About 80 faculty actually participated representing every college at UTEP. Input was summarized by the architects, shared with planning committee, and discussed. Some recurring themes:

  • The building should be a “showcase”; design the building as an “experiment”
  • Plan the building based on function, not individuals
  • Building should be a “hub”
  • Need spaces that encourage sharing of ideas, group brainstorming, planning
  • Don’t plan only for existing groups; plan for the future
  • Do not build more spaces which already exist; leave specialized labs where they are
  • Focus on core facilities
  • Need interactive high technology/video conferencing spaces
  • Space for symposia, workshops, lectures, informal interaction
  • Faculty offices should remain where they are
  • Workspace for undergraduate and graduate students and post-docs to collaborate, learn, and gather
  • Space for visiting scholars
  • Food/beverage services
  • Some shell space for future development
  • Welcoming to the community and partners outside the university
  • Open and inviting lobby with central open staircase
  • Locate centers in the building

Summary and discussion of focus group results

Discussion of space allocation. The architects identified 19 basic kinds of spaces to be considered. These were discussed and generally prioritized by the planning committee.

Discussion of site visits, core facilities, interviews of key personnel associated with UTEP’s most recently constructed buildings and others, and discussion of first draft of space allocation among generic spaces.

Discussion of core facilities.

Discussion of core facilities.

  • Presentation on site visit to Arizona State University.
  • Presentation on need for and appropriate size of vivarium.
  • Presentation on need for and appropriate size of clean room.

Agreement on space allocation and first draft “Program” for the building, including all the required spaces and adjacencies.

Discussion of need for and appropriate size of clean room; self evaluation.

Final review of the space list.

Architects present preliminary ideas for building shape, stacking diagrams, and space arrangements.

Review of 95% Program document.

Architects meet with President Natalicio to present preliminary ideas for building shape, stacking diagrams, and space arrangements.

Begin schematic design including review of preliminary concepts for exterior design to incorporate Bhutanese architecture, and interior stacking diagrams and space adjacencies.

Continue schematic design including review of landscape architecture concepts, exterior design and space adjacencies.

Meetings with committee members and key leaders regarding requirements for various specialized and shared spaces..

Committee meeting to begin review of stacking diagrams and space adjacencies

Committee meeting to review details of schematic design for exterior and landscaping

Committee meeting to review details of schematic design for interior

Town Hall meetings with faculty to present schematic designs and obtain feedback

Focus group on human subjects research



The architects have developed an exterior design and a landscaping plan. The slide show below provides some images of the exterior design.





  • Core facilities inventory
  • Online survey on space utilization, including core equipment
  • Site visits
  • More Interviews
  • Review input from department heads
  • Discussion of development and management of core facilities
  • Presentation at Research Forum, April 25, 4-6 pm
  • Approval of final Program
  • Architects start drawing
  • Begin schematic design, including landscaping, exterior design, and interior design
  • Approve schematic design
  • Develop cost estimates
  • Groundbreaking April 7, 2017
  • Develop a proposal for the operational plan for the building



  • March 17 - Review first draft
  • April 1 - Issue and discuss Pre-final program
  • April 15 - Present and discuss near final program
  • May 22 – Approve final program
  • June-July – Review schematic design
  • August – Approve final schematic design
  • September – Final proposal for Administrative approval
  • November – UT system Board of Regents approval
  • November – submission to the UT Board of Regents for approval for construction
  • April 7, 2017 – Groundbreaking



Any UTEP faculty, staff, or student currently engaged or interested in becoming engaged in interdisciplinary research or education/training is welcome to provide comments or ask questions. The committee is interested in comments/questions that are aimed at how this building will elevate UTEP’s interdisciplinary research enterprise. Your comments will be shared with IDR Building committee members. Please submit your comments or questions below and include your name, title and UTEP affiliation. The suggestion box is powered by Disqus, but you do not need an account to leave a suggestion. Simply provide your name and email and check the "I'd rather post as a guest" checkbox.
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