Groundbreaking Planned for Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB)

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for UTEP’s Interdisciplinary Research Building (IDRB).

The Texas Legislature authorized $85 million in funding for this approximately 160,000-square-foot, five-story building in 2015. Planning for the facility began in December of that year after UTEP President Diana Natalicio charged a committee of faculty, staff and students with determining the optimal use of the proposed facility.

“The design of this exciting new IDRB facility is the result of a highly intentional strategy to increase UTEP’s capacity to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations among faculty across the campus,” President Natalicio said. “It responds to growing evidence that research breakthroughs are enhanced by bringing together widely diverse perspectives and expertise. UTEP students who gain experience in this interdisciplinary research environment will have a competitive edge as they move on to post-graduate and career opportunities.”

The first floor, which will be partially underground, will have core facilities and heavy equipment. The second floor, nicknamed “Main Street,” will handle the heaviest pedestrian traffic with a café, building visitor center, galleries to showcase research, meeting rooms and an 80-seat auditorium. The top three floors will have wet and dry labs and interdisciplinary research suites designed for maximum flexibility in size and use.

Among the highlights will be a “canyon-like” patio between the IDRB and the Undergraduate Learning Center. A planned bridge will span the canyon, which will have a water feature.

“This collaborative, state-of-the-art facility is another example of how UTEP is creating a new national research university model,” said Vice President for Research Roberto Osegueda, Ph.D. “With more than 300 faculty and staff engaged in research, millions in funding resulting from a record number of proposals, and invaluable research opportunities for our students, this space will only enhance our contributions toward solutions for the future.”

Burges and Barry halls were demolished to make space for the new facility. Construction will start later this spring with the relocation of existing utility lines.

“This will be exciting to watch,” said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs – facilities management. “This building will be the first structure on campus developed to support interdisciplinary research teams from colleges across campus. The goal is to involve as many disciplines as possible.”

The IDRB will be constructed in phases and is expected to be ready for use in fall 2019.