Open to Innovation

In the Integrated Research and Innovation Center (IRIC), grant-funded faculty and students collaborate on cross-department research in the hard sciences, social sciences, even the humanities.

Flexibility, transparency and openness are at the heart of the project’s core design goal of bringing together diverse disciplines on the University of Idaho (UI) campus in Moscow, Idaho. Wet and dry labs are interconnected to allow researchers to reconfigure their workspace as their teams and work evolve.

The design also connects the outside world to the work hosted in the building, with a pathway through it at ground level — both inside and outside — connecting to the primary campus quad and the engineering and physics building beyond. An atrium bisects the building, creating visibility between departments that encourages communication and collaboration.

The building massing and perforated metal cladding creates a self-shading system to reduce heat gain, which also helped the project to achieve LEED Gold certification. The building and the campus also use biomass boilers fueled by waste wood from local mills, as well as natural gas boilers to produce energy.

An Interdisciplinary Culture

When the three-story, 78,500-square-foot IRIC opened in January 2017, more than 20 teams of faculty, graduates and undergraduates representing every UI college had secured space in the building — researching autonomous vehicles, alternative energy, resiliency, genomics, neuroscience and more.

“Space is really an important part of developing an interdisciplinary culture,” says Holly Wichman, a UI biology professor who has led research in the IRIC. “You really need to spend time together if you’re going to do interdisciplinary work that’s integrated, rather than parallel. Our biggest problems are going to require this kind of approach: infectious disease, energy, fire and so on.”


AIA Seattle, Honor Award