New Building Represents Mason’s Commitment to Research

Posted: August 7, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Research I
With its striking observatory tower at right, the new Research I building looks ready to help take Mason researchers to new heights.

By Daniel Walsch

With an observatory tower that reaches to the sky and opens to the stars, the new research building at Mason in many ways represents the future direction of George Mason University: onward and upward.

Research I is the first of its kind at Mason. It is a facility designed almost exclusively to support the institution’s growing need for research space.

Directory sign
The building’s directory hints at some of the exciting scientific research taking place at Mason.

“We are very excited about Research I because it is very much in sync with the university’s vision of becoming a much-more research-based institution,” says Matt Kluger, vice president for research and economic development.

“It is comprised primarily of laboratories, meeting rooms and offices – exactly the kind of spaces faculty need to pursue innovative and groundbreaking research.”

Even though work on the 98,974-square-foot building is not quite complete, faculty and staff have already started occupying it in preparation for the upcoming fall semester. The four-story building will be able to accommodate 370 occupants when the moving-in is complete.

Following is a general breakdown of the space and some of its key occupants:

  • The first floor includes classrooms, conference rooms of various sizes and accommodations for the Office of Sponsored Research.
  • The second floor accommodates the Dean’s Office for the College of Science (COS); the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research (CEOSR); Natural Hazards Laboratory of CEOSR, located with the Coordinated Atmospheric Modeling Program; the CEOSR Lab; and the general COS student computer lab, all part of COS.
  • The third floor houses the COS Department of Computational and Data Sciences, the Department of Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences, the Center for Computational Fluid Dynamics, the Computational Materials Science Center, the Department of Climate Dynamics, the Joint Center for Intelligent Spatial Computing and the Supercomputer Facility, as well as the Krasnow Institute’s Center for Social Complexity.
  • The fourth floor accommodates the Center for History and New Media and the Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering’s Center for Secure Information Systems, Learning Agents Center, Center for Air Transportation Systems Research and robotics research lab.

A new high-tech astronomy laboratory will also be located in Research I. This will include a rooftop observatory and support space and is expected to be completed within the next year.

As reported in earlier meetings to the Board of Visitors, the university has been anticipating Research I for years. According to the Office of the Provost, Mason has had a significant need for faculty offices and research laboratories. This deficit has grown to as much as 54 percent over the past four years and, if not addressed, was projected to grow annually by nearly 20 percent through 2010. While Research I does not eliminate this problem, it does represent a significant stopgap in the university’s research space problem.

“We are very pleased to finally see this important facility become a reality,” says Kluger. “Through the efforts of many fine scholars at our institution and the guidance of President [Alan] Merten and Provost [Peter] Stearns, the university has been making significant strides over the past few years in increasing its research efforts. Research I is an important benchmark for us.”

Kluger emphasizes that Research I is not just for research faculty. Graduate and undergraduate students, he notes, will have ample opportunities to work with faculty on a range of projects and research efforts. “Our students and faculty already have a number of viable partnerships in place in many areas of research. Research I enhances the opportunities for collaboration and learning.”

Construction on Research I began in 2003. The approximate cost of the building is $21.7 million.

Once this building is completely up and running, what does Mason do for an encore? That’s easy, says Kluger. Planning is already under way for Research II.

An official opening ceremony to celebrate Research I is in the works, and details will be announced in future issues of the Mason Gazette.

conference room
The first-floor conference center is fully equipped and is being set up to accommodate a variety of meeting formats.
Photos by Evan Cantwell

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