Texas Icon H. Ross Perot Keynote
Speaker at UT Dallas Dedication June 5

Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory
Will Serve ‘Best and Brightest’ Scientists in the Country

June 5, 2007

The state-of-the-art, architecturally diverse Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory (NSERL) at The University of Texas at Dallas was formally dedicated today by University of Texas System Chancellor Mark Yudof, UT System Regent Robert A. Estrada and UT Dallas President Dr. David E. Daniel.

Texas businessman and two-time presidential nominee H. Ross Perot gave the keynote remarks.

President Daniel noted that the building, which could eventually accommodate as many as 350 faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, will provide a new perspective.

“NSERL promises to transform the UT Dallas community’s approach to science and perhaps its level of self-regard as to appearance, too.  We didn’t set out to build a ‘glamour’ location, but, like a jewel, the building sparkles,” Daniel said.  “Its striking design has put NSERL on the map in the state of Texas, and our new building will house the best and brightest researchers the country has to offer.  Today is indeed a very special day for our campus.”

The four-story, 192,000 square-foot research facility was completed in December 2006 after 24 months of construction.  Officials expect to fill the building with high-level faculty and scientists, including some currently at UT Dallas and others yet to be recruited.  They will come from such disparate fields as electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, chemistry, biology and behavioral and brain sciences.  NSERL also could provide space for small, start-up businesses, or incubators, which often spring from university research efforts.

The building was uniquely designed to break down barriers that may exist because a researcher is in one department versus another.  Laboratories within NSERL provide space for scientists and engineers ranging from synthetic chemists who require significant fume hood space to electrical engineers who need open labs for large equipment.  

A highlight of the building is the Nanoelectronics Materials Laboratory located on the fourth floor.  Work done in the lab has two major components:  research into materials for integrated circuits used in computers, cell phones and other technologies, and research into low-cost organic materials.  The lab contains a large vacuum system that allows researchers to deposit thin film materials one atomic layer at a time.  Unique in the world, the system cost more than $3 million to build.

Class 10,000 cleanroom facilities also have been included in the new building, adding mini-environments of high integrity.  By definition, a cleanroom has a controlled level of contamination, specified by the number of particles per m3 and maximum particle size.  To offer perspective, the outside world would be considered a Class 5,000,000 cleanroom.

Main laboratories in the building possess large windows that overlook open work stations, allowing those outside to observe experiments in progress.  At the back of each module, there are support areas for small specialized equipment, as well as linear equipment rooms that run behind all labs and house equipment such as pumps, compressors and refrigerators in order to avoid taking up prime space and help reduce noise. 

Other special equipment in the building includes high-resolution electron microscopes that require low vibration and low electromagnetic fields.

Additional lab tools will be added as individual faculty move into the building.  Research groups that require wet laboratory space or deal with hazardous materials are given priority for this location; “dry” research, such as in computer science or fundamental mathematics, is not likely to be allotted space in the building.

In light of UT Dallas’ strategic plan to reach Tier One status as a research institution, coupled with the additional scientists that will be added to the faculty, approximately one-third of the building’s space is being reserved for future expansion.

Among  NSERL’s outstanding architectural features are the colorful anodized stainless steel shingles that cover 15 percent of the building’s façade.  In a process that doesn’t involve paints, pigments or dyes, the colors on the shingles are produced by the play of light on an oxide layer, which reflects a stunning range of color.  Additionally, the oxide layer provides a protective coating, increasing the shingles’ resistance to corrosion. 

A customized glass curtain wall slopes upward four stories and spans nearly the entire width of the east side of the building.  It is accompanied by a standing seam metal roof, which is segmented, curved, tiered, folded and bent.  The building’s façade also employs indentations, deep shadow boxes, cantilevered surfaces, undulations and facets running vertically and horizontally.

Fossilized limestone from the Texas Hill Country adds texture to the southeast corner of the building.

NSERL is made up of:

  • 1,526 tons of steel reinforcement
  • 987 tons of pre-cast concrete — each of the roughly 70 pre-cast tubs weighs 28,000 lbs., or 14 tons
  • 12,653 yards of concrete weighing 25,126 tons
  • 853 tons of structural and miscellaneous steel
  • 25,000 anodized stainless steel shingles requiring 50,000 clips and 100,000 stainless steel screws
  • 10 miles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) conduit
  • 36 miles of EMT conduit
  • 180 miles of copper wire

Safety, security and ventilation systems also are installed, and the building has special exhaust and drain systems and gas piping and plumbing systems. 

Access to the building following the dedication will be limited to UT Dallas students, faculty and staff, and those they escort, and entrance to the building requires key-card access.  Ascending levels of access also are incorporated into certain portions of the facility.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility was made possible by a complex economic development agreement code named “Project Emmitt.”  Under the agreement, which was announced in June 2003 by Texas Instruments (TI), the State of Texas and the University of Texas System, TI agreed to build the chip fabrication plant in Richardson — despite strong inducements from locations in other parts of the world — if the state and local private sector would ensure that UT Dallas received an infusion of up to $300 million to expand and improve its Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
       
The architects of NSERL are PageSoutherlandPage, the architect of record, and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects LLP, the design architects.  The construction management contractor was Centex Corporation of Dallas.

About UT Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students.  The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores.  The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.  For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.


Contact Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, jennib@utdallas.edu

Text size: Increase text sizeDecrease text size

Share this page

Email this article.

Tuesday,
July 22, 2014