Lewis Integrative Science Building to usher in 'new era of research excellence’

EUGENE, Ore. — (Oct. 18, 2012) — The future of science at the University of Oregon begins with the opening of the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building later this month.

The high-performance hub for the sciences will bring biologists, chemists, psychologists, and other researchers together under one roof, sparking exciting new research projects and outstanding student learning opportunities — and inspiring a fresh and collaborative approach to the sciences.

Members of the media are invited to get a sneak peek at a Lewis Building Media Preview Day scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Tours will leave from the main southwest entrance of the facility. The Lewis Building is located at 1440 Franklin Blvd.

"The opening of the Lewis Building marks the beginning of a new era of research excellence at the University of Oregon," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation, and dean of the graduate school. "As scientists reach deeper into specialized fields of study, it’s more important than ever that we remain aware of how research fits into the larger picture. This building allows scientists to focus on their individual areas of specialty, with an eye toward the work of other researchers. It encourages connections to be made and brings strategic clusters of researchers together to solve the grand societal challenges of tomorrow, today."

Part of the UO's Lorry I. Lokey Science Complex, the Lewis Building is a 103,000-square-foot facility that literally unites the sciences by connecting the adjacent Lokey Laboratories, Huestis Hall, Streisinger Hall and Klamath Hall science buildings.

Wet labs, dry labs and other primary research spaces in the Lewis Building can be accessed by faculty and students to study everything from colonies of cells to communities of people. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and other shared high-performance tools and technologies are available both to researchers on campus and partners from the private sector.

An atrium with stadium seating provides a place for faculty and students to congregate, and glass walls and doors put scientific instruments on display. A three-story whiteboard invites participation and encourages open thinking and cross-pollination. The open layout of the labs and spaces feeds a collaborative approach that defines integrative science.

Constructed at a cost of $65 million, the Lewis Building was funded partly through private donations. Donors included Robert and Beverly Lewis and Lorry I. Lokey, along with William Swindells, Jr., and Rosaria Haugland.

"We're extremely grateful to the Lewis family and to Lorry I. Lokey for their generous support, as well as all of the donors and friends who made this day possible," Espy said.

The Lewis building was also financed with federal and state grants and state bonds. The 2007 Oregon Legislature authorized $30 million in Article XI-G bonds for the Lewis Integrative Science Building, the largest G-bond investment in academic buildings in UO's history and the first major construction investment in the sciences to be completed since 1990.

"This facility increases the state’s capacity to attract research grants and generate economic benefits that serve Oregonians," said Gov. John Kitzhaber in a statement. "I'm proud of the University of Oregon's track record of turning research into jobs."

Because $120 million in annual sponsored research dollars primarily comes from sources outside the state, research funding is good for Oregon, Espy stressed.

UO is one of the top research universities in the nation for translating basic research discoveries into practical applications. UO research innovations generated nearly $7.9 million in licensing revenue for the Oregon economy in 2011-2012.

Creating a science building with sustainable features was an imperative in designing the Lewis Building. Temperature-controlled windows, a waste-heat recovery system and the use of solar power and reclaimed water put the facility on track to earn Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Additionally, majestic Red Oak trees on the building site were saved through the UO's innovative tree-protection strategies. Inside, bamboo paneling — a rapidly renewable product — was used throughout the building as a finishing material.

The term "integrative science" refers to the creation of synergies across diverse academic disciplines, which will be a key goal in the Lewis Building. Ranging from curiosity-driven basic research to commercialization of new technologies, the approach aims to create new knowledge and new partnerships between academic research and private industry, government agencies and the larger community. 

"Science has changed over the last 30 years and we need new facilities like the Lewis Building that reflect those changes," said Cris Niell, an assistant professor in the UO Department of Biology and Institute of Neuroscience who will conduct research in the new building. "I think the research that comes out of the Lewis Building will lead to real scientific breakthroughs."

About the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building

Opening in October 2012, the Robert and Beverly Lewis Integrative Science Building is home to strategic research clusters centered around interdisciplinary and integrative research missions that are not defined by departmental boundaries. Part of the University of Oregon’s Lorry I. Lokey Science Complex, the building brings researchers together from across the spectrum to tackle society's grand challenges, from cellular processes to improving communities.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact: Lewis Taylor, associate director of PR and strategic communications, 541-517-6201, lewist@uoregon.edu

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Lewis Integrative Science Building