University of Arkansas to build new ‘I3R’ research facility on Dickson Street

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 6,731 views 

A Dickson Street parking lot in Fayetteville is where the University of Arkansas will build a new research facility.

Laura Jacobs, chief of staff to Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, confirmed to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal that the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R) will be built at the southeast corner of Dickson and Duncan streets on the southeast side of the UA campus.

UA officials in July 2020 announced a $194.7 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, one of the most significant single private gifts ever given to a university for advancing research and economic development. The funding is supporting several initiatives, one of which is the I3R. Steinmetz described the building as an interdisciplinary and wholly integrative research institute and the “backbone” for five broad research areas:

  • Data science
  • Food and technology: Food systems and the future of food
  • Materials science and engineering
  • Bioscience and bioengineering research in metabolism
  • Integrative systems neuroscience

When they announced the grant last summer, UA officials did not disclose the I3R’s location, specific size and other details, such as a construction timeline. Those details are a little clearer now.

“We are deep into schematic design for the building,” Jacobs wrote in a recent email. She said Kansas City, Mo.-based Hufft, which has a Bentonville office, and HGA Architects & Engineers of Milwaukee have been working with faculty groups and others to define the building parameters.

The building’s projected size is between 125,000 and 130,000 square feet. Jacobs said groundbreaking is likely for January 2022, with building occupancy in January 2024.

The I3R site is now known as Lot 71, next to the Nanoscale Material Science & Engineering Building and across Dickson Street from John A. White Jr. Engineering Hall. Jacobs said the I3R would occupy much of the existing parking lot’s footprint — about 2.6 acres — leaving some parking available and some green space.

The building is situated near the Harmon Avenue Parking Garage. Considering how sacred parking is on the campus, that’s probably by design.