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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences to open Jan. 26

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

The largest academic building project in the University’s history will be unveiled when University of Rhode Island officials cut the ribbon to open the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences on January 26.

The 140,000 square foot facility houses modern classrooms, high-tech faculty research laboratories, special facilities for DNA sequencing and analysis, faculty offices, a 100-seat classroom and a two-story, 300-seat auditorium, all to meet the needs of URI's growing environmental biotechnology, life and health sciences programs.

“This stunning building will be a major center of education and research that will drive economic development in the state's growing biotechnology industry,” said Jeff Seemann, dean of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. “It’s a showcase facility that will provide our students with a learning environment that will allow them to become leaders in growing and emerging disciplines, while also creating an environment in which our faculty can conduct research that will lead to important scientific advances.”

The Center features a dramatic three-story entryway with floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooftop patio, an open stairway that suggests the DNA double-helix, and interior spaces designed to encourage interaction among faculty and students. One highlight is the aquarium lab, where fish and other marine life used in marine sciences research can be observed behind imposing glass windows.

It also includes numerous design elements that will qualify it for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, including an energy efficient heating and cooling system, a ‘green’ roof that is partially covered in vegetation that will serve to filter pollutants and reduce heating and cooling needs, a storm water treatment feature, and environmentally friendly building materials.

The architect for the Center was Payette Associates of Boston, and Providence-based Gilbane Building Co. served as the construction manager. The building was funded with a $50 million state bond approved by voters in 2004 and additional corporate, private and federal funds, including $1 million donated by Amgen.

The Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences will be the anchor of the North District of the Kingston Campus, which will also be the future home of new buildings for the University’s pharmacy, nursing and chemistry programs. A 113-acre technology park will be located on the opposite side of Flagg Road.

“The development of the North District will make URI a national leader in the life and health sciences and even more central to the economic development of Rhode Island,” said Robert Weygand, vice president for administration.