Trustees vote to move forward on key research, housing facilities

May 16, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's Board of Trustees on Friday (May 16) approved moving forward on several projects that will advance the university's Purdue Moves initiatives.

Among the actions were approval to plan, finance, construct and award construction contracts for three engineering research facilities; approval to plan an agronomy center laboratory; and authorization to exchange land parcels with the Purdue Research Foundation and allow planning activities to begin for a facility that will serve University Residences and the Honors College.

The College of Engineering projects will invest up to a total of $76.2 million in the college's strategic growth plan. Approved proposals call for construction of a flexible research lab facility, an addition to biomedical engineering's Martin Jischke Hall and construction of a new building to add additional research capacity to the Zucrow High Pressure Lab.

"These facilities will play a key role in helping us reach our strategic growth plan goals and realize the vision spelled out in Purdue Moves," said Leah Jamieson, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "Key components of that vision are the hiring of more than 100 new faculty and expansion of our research opportunities. State-of-the-art research facilities are critical to reaching those goals."

Purdue Moves is a range of initiatives introduced by President Mitch Daniels to broaden Purdue's global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students.

Trustees authorized the proposal to plan, finance, construct and award contracts for the completion of the $54 million flex lab, to be built south of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park.

The 75,000-square-foot lab will be a multidisciplinary research facility designed to bring together researchers from diverse backgrounds to enhance learning, collaboration and team-based research. Both wet and dry labs will be housed in the building, which is designed to address the needs of today's diverse research portfolio and to adapt to changing future needs. Infrastructure also will be in place to accommodate future facility expansion.

The lab will be financed with up to $38 million in proceeds from bonds, up to $13.5 million in gift funds and up to $2.5 million in university central reserve funds.

A three-story addition and basement, totaling 32,000 square feet, will be added to the existing Jischke Hall to enhance the university's biomedical engineering research capabilities. The $14 million addition, to be financed with gift funds, will house research labs; an expanded multidisciplinary student design lab; additional instructional spaces to support active-learning activities; and office and support spaces for instructional and research labs.

The $8.2 million Zucrow project will add 14,600 square feet through a new 9,600-square-foot building and the renovation and addition to the Zucrow Lab 3 building to add approximately 5,000 square feet. The new building will house test cells, a laser lab and associated research preparation space, while the renovated and expanded area will house a control center and research offices, along with a new parking area.

Funding for the project will come from $7.45 million in gifts, with the remainder coming from repair and rehabilitation funds.

Trustees also authorized selecting, retaining and contracting with an architect/engineering firm to begin planning for the $10 million Agronomy Center Automated Phenotyping and Seed Processing Laboratory. The 25,000-sqaure-foot facility will be constructed at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education.

The phenotyping lab will support the development of automated systems for collecting field measurements that quantify differences in plant characteristics and traits such as canopy development, leaf area, height and photosynthetic ability. The facility will also house plant and seed laboratories that will be equipped to measure additional characteristics such as kernel size and composition, plant and seed metabolism, and other commercially valuable traits.

"The field phenotyping laboratory will give Purdue the tools to test plant productivity on a large scale through detailed assessment of plant traits that are important for both research and commercialization," said Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs. "It also will serve as an innovation hub for students. We anticipate that the lab will attract students from many areas of study who will work together to enhance both their learning and development of commercial products."

Funding for the lab will come from university central reserves and/or gift funds.

Trustees approved moving ahead with preparatory actions that will culminate in a new residence hall that will also serve as the home to Purdue's new Honors College.

The 310,000-square-foot residence hall, to be located at the southwest corner of Russell and Third streets, will have approximately 870 beds and about 40,000 square feet of academic space designed to encourage academic success through the development of a living-learning community.

"We have already seen evidence that students living on campus have more academic success and higher graduation rates than their off-campus peers," said Beth McCuskey, associate vice president for Housing and Food Services. "As Purdue Moves was being conceptualized, President Daniels charged us with increasing housing options so that at least half of our undergraduate students can choose to live on campus. This new residence hall, in partnership with the Honors College, will make on-campus living and learning a more seamless experience by including planned and dedicated academic spaces."

The board authorized selecting and retaining an architectural/engineering firm to provide project-planning services and also approved acquiring property, currently owned by the Purdue Research Foundation, for the facility.

A total cost to construct the new facility has not yet been finalized, however, the project will be financed with student facilities revenue bond proceeds, Housing and Food Services reserves, university reserves, and gift funds. The current timeline calls for the facility to begin operations no later than the fall of 2017.

In other business, the trustees also approved:

* Naming a new library in the soon-to-be-built Active Learning Center the Thomas S. and Harvey D. Wilmeth Library of Engineering and Science in recognition of a $4 million gift from Thomas Wilmeth. The naming also honors his late brother, Harvey. Both men are Purdue engineering graduates.

* Master service agreements with Siemens Industry Inc. of Indianapolis and Automated Logic Co. of Muncie to provide temperature control optimization services to ensure efficient management of systems that provide comfort and required ventilation to campus spaces. A three-year master service agreement for up to $3 million and not to exceed $1 million per year will be established with each company. 

On Thursday (May 15), the Physical Facilities Committee approved:

* A $2.86 million construction contract with J.R. Kelly Co. Inc. of Lafayette to convert Wade Utility Plant Boiler No. 2 from operating on a mix of coal and natural gas to burn 100 percent natural gas. The $3.1 million project, to be funded from fee replacement bond proceeds, will include removal of some of the coal and ash systems.

* The university leasing 14 apartments in a building owned by Purdue Research Foundation at 125 Waldron St. as extended-stay housing for visiting faculty and scholars and new employees and families transitioning to the West Lafayette campus. Housing and Food Services and Purdue Research Foundation will manage the building jointly. The university's lease of the facility will last 24 months and can be renewed.

* Financing and construction of the first phase of work to replace and upgrade the secondary electrical distribution in the south portion of the Physics Building. This $3 million project will include removal of an old generator and installation of arc-flash mitigation breakers and a new automatic transfer switch. 

Writers: Brian Zink, 765-494-2080,

Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, 

Sources: Michael B. Cline, vice president for physical facilities, 765-494-8000

Ken Sandel, director of physical and capital planning, 765-496-6300

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