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Center for Social Science Research

Posted by: Jennifer Stevens | November 20, 2012 | No Comment |

A portion of the second floor in the Bell Building is under renovation to provide space for the Center for Social Science Research (CSSR). The Center will be a modern facility that will enable discoveries across disciplines and will transform social science research at the College. The project is partially funded through a $1M grant from the National Science Foundation.

State-of-the-art observational suites and single subject behavioral and cognitive testing rooms will allow for diverse projects in psychology and related research in the social sciences. The Center also provides consolidation of research spaces that have been located at various locations across campus into a central location that allows more research collaboration, including more interdisciplinary activity. The creation of an archaeological wet lab and associated space will provide secure facilities to protect reference collections from hurricane activity.  This facility is one of the few buildings on campus that is located immediately adjacent to a large parking structure, improving and increasing disability access and participation in human subject research.

In the short-term, the project will allow for the immediate occupation of functional research laboratories for faculty members and their student research trainees who previously had no or suboptimal facilities. One basic performance metric will be the number of faculty and students with access to research laboratories, and the associated increase in the average square footage of usable research space per faculty. Other short-term metrics include the number of IRB research protocol applications submitted and approved to execute research in the CSSR space. Additional short-term metrics that reflect the impact of the CSSR with regard to research-training include the number of bachelor’s essay, independent study, and other individualized research-training experiences executed in this facility.

Long-term metrics include the number of community outreach initiatives or partnerships, programs, conference presentations, submitted and published manuscripts, published technical reports, and grant funding applications submitted and funded that are based on research activities conducted at the CSSR.

The scope of the renovation includes the reconfiguration of space previously used as a weight room then by the Office of Admissions and Anthropology seminar space into functional research suites. The design-build construction consisted of a lab for archaeological research, a computer lab for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) research, joint-use Psychology and Anthropology computer lab, Psychology data collection spaces, testing labs, and cognitive labs. The build-out included demolition and removal, associated new construction including infrastructure renovations, new partitions, upgrading and rezoning HVAC systems, new power and lighting, wall, floor,  and ceiling finishes, plus furniture and all the necessary cyber structure to support computers, flat panels monitors, projectors, and screens, plus functionally specific software and network and Internet access.

This is the College’s first design-build project in that the project is bid and awarded as a single project to an architect/contractor team. This method proved to provide efficiencies during the build-out phase of the project that resulted in fewer change orders and faster construction.

Finally, the understanding and compliance with the grant funding requirements associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act added challenges. The federal requirements included stipulations not previously required on state projects and resulted in a degree of complexity that required significant time and administrative work on the part of numerous members of the project team.

The project reached substantial completion earlier this month with furniture and IT/AV to be installed early next year. The CSSR will be ready for functional use in February.

under: Business Affairs
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