Construction Continues Forward on New I3R Building

An architectural rendering shows what the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research will look like facing Dickson Street.
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An architectural rendering shows what the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research will look like facing Dickson Street.

The U of A continues to expand upon its widely renowned campus, now with a state-of-the-art research facility. The Institute for Integrative & Innovative Research (I³R), being built on the corner of Duncan Avenue and Dickson Street, will provide the space and technology for some of the most cutting-edge and inventive research at the University of Arkansas. The multi-year process of realizing the three-story, approximately 144,000-square-foot facility continues to make strides toward completion.

Here’s a look at how I³R got from where it was in 2020 to where it is today.

View of lot prior to construction work starting

July 2020

Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation announces $194.7 million gift to establish I³R.

Early work begins on construction site in October 2021

October 2021

Crews begin to work on the east side of the I³R site to construct a tunnel and conduct early sitework to prepare for excavation. Part of this process included extending the existing infrastructure below the I³R site to supply heating, power and chilled water to the new building, while relocating existing utility infrastructure out of the footprint of the building.

tents on the construction site for groundbreaking ceremony

April 2022

Groundbreaking ceremony. Breaking ground signifies the official start of construction for the building. U.S. Sen. John Boozman and then-interim Vice Chancellor for Economic Development David Snow gave remarks on the impact that I³R is expected to have on the U of A’s research initiatives.

view from southwest shows first excavation starting

June 2022

Excavation process begins to clear area for the foundation of the building. Crews filled approximately 200 trucks a day for 30 days to clear the site for the floor of I³R.

first concrete walls are poured

September 2022

First concrete walls begin to be established.

a night-time view of the construction site where crews worked past midnight

November 2022

Crews pour concrete overnight for I³R’s floor system. It is more advantageous to pour at night because traffic is clear and the temperature is stable, creating ideal conditions for concrete pouring.

work begins to install site crane in November 2022

November 2022

Tower crane arrives on site.

first stage of steel infrastructure is added to the snow-swept site

December 2022

First stage of steel is built on site. 

steel skeleton of the building nearly completed

April 2023

Workers put finishing touches on the building’s steel skeleton. Timber arrives on site to be built once the steel structure is finished. The steel and timber ratio is approximately 50% of each. Together, they form the structural integrity of the building, providing a robust and strong foundation while also highlighting the beauty of the building’s character.

a topping-out ceremony marked the highest beam of the building

June 2023

Topping out ceremony, commemorating the final structural beam being raised into place and completing the building’s frame. More than 200 people gathered on site to sign this piece of timber and participate in the tradition of raising the wood with a tree on it to the highest point of the building, signaling the final piece of timber needed for the project. Some notable attendees included U of A Chancellor Charles Robinson, U.S. Congressman Steve Womack, and Associate Vice Chancellor and I³R Executive Director Ranu Jung. 

architectural rendering of the building as it will appear when finished

Fall 2024

Estimated completion.

U of A Facilities Management, in collaboration with CDI Contractors and I³R staff, continues its hard work to achieve a structure worthy of the valuable research that I³R will shelter in the years to come.


Drew Watzke, communications manager
Facilities Management and Transit & Parking


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