Design begins for new Interdisciplinary Instruction and Research Building (IIRB) on Science Hill

UC Santa Cruz is moving forward with preliminary design for a new building that will accommodate the undergraduate teaching programs currently held in Thimann Laboratories, following approval from the UC Regents in May 2023.

The new building, referred to as the Interdisciplinary Instruction and Research Building (IIRB), will house state-of-the-art laboratories for undergraduate instruction in biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as interdisciplinary uses. Early design includes a feasibility study to confirm the best site location on Science and Engineering Hill. The new teaching laboratories in the IIRB will address over-utilization and new enrollments, as well as the campus’s urgent need for relocation space to facilitate seismic projects at the 1965 Thimann Laboratories and other older campus buildings.

The design process is being led by Ennead Architects, who recently completed similar projects at Stanford University, University of Texas at Austin, and Vassar College. The current phase picks up from the campus engagement, and programming and visioning work, completed during the earlier pre-design phase. The design team is continuing to work together with the building users and campus stakeholders to assure that the new IIRB will best serve the UCSC campus community and meet the UCSC mission and Principles of Community. Bryan Gaensler, dean of the Science Division, is chairing the campus Programming and Building Committee for the IIRB project.

The project vision aligns closely with campuswide goals in Leading the Change: The UC Santa Cruz Strategic Plan. The project vision for the IIRB states: The new IIRB prioritizes equity and inclusion by demystifying & diversifying scientific instruction and student research and inviting students to create their own scientific identities and be at home in the sciences. 

The IIRB is being designed to support the priorities of being approachable, accessible, comfortable, and welcoming to the entire student body. The building and site design will encourage collaboration and academic success, with attention to those not equitably represented in the sciences. 

The committee will provide updates throughout the preliminary plans process, and PPDO will post updates to Projects in Design on their website beginning in 2024.