The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 6, 2002 -16
Electrician Doug Cary goes over site plans for the life Sciences
Institute. The Institute, which holds laboratories and offices, as
well as one 30-person meeting space, is scheduled for
completion in Fall 2003. It will be the first building of the Life
Sciences Inifiative finished.
WHAT TO EXPECT AND WHEN
Dixon, who left in July
for the University of
California at San Diego.
Construction on the
located at the corner
of Huron Street and
will end. The 99,000
square foot, six-story
building is expected to
have a food court,
conference space and
The Life Sciences
Institute will open
its doors. About a
half dozen faculty
expected to move in
Part of the 1,000-car
Palmer Drive Parking
Structure will be
completed and ready for
occupancy in 2003. The
Pedestrian Plaza walkway
will be on top of the
structure, giving people
3rd-floor access to the
Institute and the
Commons Building and
1st-floor access to the
facility, which will also be
built on top of the parking
Within the next five
to seven years, the
should finally be
Managing Director Liz
Center will become
the last completed
building of the
person walking around the con-
truction site of the new Life Sci-
ences Initiative may find it hard
to imagine that by this time next
yearn part.of it will be in the final stages of
But five days a week, approximately 400
construction workers visit the site, located at the
bend across from Palmer Field where Washte-
naw Avenue becomes Huron Street. From 6
a.m. to 10 p.m., electricians, carpenters, engi-
neers and other workers toil away on the build-
ings that comprise the Initiative, launched in
1990 under former University President Lee
Construction on two buildings - the six-
story Life Science Insti-_
tute and the 99,000 liy
square-foot Commons ss an ai
Building - is already feat just t
underway. Work on
another building, the the
Science Instruction Cen- - LSI AssociateI
ter adjacent to the Insti-
tute, cannot begin until the center's parking
structure is finished.
An overpass will connect the Commons
Building to the Hill Area and an open meeting
area called the Pedestrian Plaza will lead stu-
dents to the Dental School.
"It's a physical and intellectual bridge," LSI
spokesman Karl Bates said.
The area used to be the home of the North
University Building, which was demolished
before the project began.
"The idea was to bring it there to bridge the
gap. The space is pretty cramped," said Alan
Saltiel, the Institute's associate director. "If you
just wanted to put a building up, you would
have looked at a space on North Campus. It is
an architectural feat just to get it up there."
But the Initiative, which will be based
around genomics, chemical and structural
biology, cognitive neuroscience and bioinfor-
matics, is not simply a compilation of
research buildings and faculty.
It is also a series of undergraduate and gradu-
ate courses, which are already being offered;
the Values and Society Program, which looks at
the moral and ethical implications of scientific
advancements; and a project that officials hope
will increase interaction between various cam-
pus departments and schools, like the philoso-
phy, medicine, law, business and arts programs.
Saltiel said there are many ways the Institute
and the Initiative can interact with other depart-
ments. The ideas include
working with the Business
School on ways to adver-
tise discoveries and com-
missioning the School of
Art and Design for artwork
to add to the walls.
"A lot of artists look
Ethics and the Life Sciences," "Brain, Learning
and Memory" and "Evolutionary Biology and
Human Disease" - are all focused around
multi-disciplinary study and interaction, said
Jill Becker, chair of the Undergraduate Life Sci-
ence Initiative committee.
"The faculty were all very excited about the
classes, and that is going to make them exciting
for students," Becker said, adding that she
believes undergraduate education is a large part
of the Initiative. "The undergraduates need to
be taught by the scientists who are doing this
really dynamic research. That's what gives the
undergraduates an advantage when they get out
of there, is that they are trained by the best."
A large part of the undergraduate education
will exist in the Under-
graduate Science Instruc-
chitecturai tion Center, which s h an
get itfup expected completion date
of Fall 2005.
re "The $61 million L-
shaped center will house
irector Alan Saltiel the Undergraduate
Program, Women in Science and Engineering
and the Life Sciences Values and Society Pro-
gram, as well as classroom, computer labs,
teaching labs and a lecture hall.
"The'intent of this is to ... make this under-
graduate science center diverse and welcoming
to groups that are not necessarily associated
with science and technology," said Cell and
Molecular Biology Prof. Pamela Raymond.
"This will allow an environment where students
will not only be in classrooms, but also engaged
in other academic activities."
rrently, the site is covered in dust,
ooden boards and two-by-fours. A
temporary rickety wooden staircase
leads to the second floor of the Life Science
Institute, dubbed the Mechanical Room, where
pipes for heat and ventilation fill up much of
the room's space. Later, workers will add the
machines that will heat and cool the 240,000
The roof already holds the building's main
electrical equipment, which Plant Extension
Project Engineer Ken Silverman said is "ready
A blue freight elevator with wire walls car-
ries construction workers from floor to floor,
where office walls and laboratory and equip-
ment spaces are being constructed on floors
four, five and six.
Though there are walls around the outside
now, there is no glass in the windows and few
areas are constructed with the six types of stone
that will eventually give the building its fin-
ished appearance. On several floors there are no
or few separations between rooms, and those
visiting must use their imaginations, or the site
plan, to figure out where the offices will be.
Mice will eventually live in the building's
There will be four labs on each floor, for a
total of 12, and each lab will fit 30 to 35
researchers. Instead of being separated from
one another, the labs will be positioned next to
each other, and scientists will use shared equip-
ment, all in an effort to encourage as much'
communication and interaction as possible.
Office spaces will be located on the short
ends of the building, next to each other instead
of being connected directly to the labs.
"This is the new approach to doing labs. We
are not the only ones doing this," Bates said.
"People who are building laboratory space
around the country are doing this."
L he competing universities are part of the
nitiative's number one challenge:
ecruitment of the best scientists and
researchers in the country.
Though few University officials say they
believe the LSI will have a problem convincing
researchers to move to Michigan, they all
acknowledge that recruitment is the top priority
and many say the competition will defer the
best from accepting positions here.
"To be a really great university in the next
century, the University of Michigan will
Carpenter Joe Diaz Installs drywall on the sixth floor
of the Life Sciences Institute Tuesday afternoon. Diaz
Is one of 400 construction workers participating on
the project. Each floor of the $100 million Institute Is
the size of a football field.
have to be great in the life sciences. The
Institute will be one part
of making Michigan "The joh
great for science," said ,N,0
Liz Barry, the Institute's Jump flng
managing director. "Our best scien
focus in the next few
years is going to be
recruiting the best scien-
tists we can find and - LSI Managit
then supporting them
well so that they can do their research."
"Like Michigan, other leading universities
recognize that to be truly great in the next cen-
tury, they will have to be great in the sciences,"
she added. "All of the usual suspects are trying
to make great strides in these areas."
Harvard University, the University of Califor-
nia at San Francisco and at Berkeley, the Cali-
fornia Institute of Technology, Cornell
University, Stanford University and Duke Uni-
versity are all launching or building initiatives
in the Life Sciences.
"Competition for talent is atrocious. Every-
body we've talked to has had feelers from other
schools as well," Bates said. "We're all recruit-
ing a lot of the same scientists.'
Also, the University has already lost two key
people to the University of California at San
Diego - Jack Dixon and Scott Emr, the Insti-
tute's original co-directors.
Scott Emr, who would have come to Michi-
gan from San Diego, announced in January that
he had changed his mind, citing Bollinger's
departure as one of his reasons.
Jack Dixon, who had directed the Institute
since July 2001, made his announcement this
summer. He left for Califor-
his undergraduate and Ph.D. studies, to become
San Diego's Health Sciences Dean for Scientif-
"We're going to lose out on some of those
people, of course. We are competing against
those schools," Saltiel said.
But Saltiel said Michigan has several benefits
that other schools don't have, including the
quality of life in Ann Arbor and the University's
reputation in the life sciences, which he said is
strong because of the Medical School and dis-
coveries, such as the polio vaccine that was
developed in 1955 by University scientists
Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis.
He added that the University is also known
for its genetics work. It started the nation's first
human genetics program, directed by James
Neel, in 1940.
But, he and others, including Barry and Uni-
versity President Mary Sue Coleman, said the
best attraction the University has to offer scien-
tists is the strength of its other departments.
"Berkeley doesn't have a medical school.
... (The University of California at San Fran-
cisco) is really mainly a medical school. They
don't have undergraduates, they don't have
engineering, they don't have chemistry,"
Saltiel said. "(Massachusetts Institute of Tech-
nology) has a famous
it will be institute called the
w t Whitehead Institute, and
with the it's an outstanding place
fists in the but it also doesn't have a
try."The commitment to
the life sciences made by
g Director Liz Barry the University will also
attract attention this way,
To date, the University has set aside $700
million toward life sciences facilities, recruiting
and hiring - the Institute itself is a $100 mil-
Also, the State of Michigan has pledged sup-
port for the Life Sciences Corridor through its
tobacco settlement for the next 20 years. The
corridor is a billion-dollar initiative largely sup-
ported by the state, Pfizer Inc. and Pharmacia
Corp. that assists in collaboration between
Michigan universities and companies.
"The commitment that the University has
made to this area is really staggering. Both the
funds and the institutional pledge are signifi-
cant," Barry said.
Despite the competition, Barry said she sees
great things in the Institute's future.
"Five to 10 years from now, what we will
have is a very bustling building," she said.
"The joint will be jumping with the best sci-
entists in the country, all working on scientific
problems and making great progress in under-
And Barry said she's not just being opti-
"I think it's quite realistic;' she
e .ri.. .. ' i . ,: ..,,yam''. i ,