The University Record, October 16, 1995

Physics Research Laboratory dedicated

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Some 400 alumni, faculty and students gathered on the Diag last Thursday to dedicate the new $22-million Physics Research Laboratory and celebrate the future of physics at the University.

"Work done here will contribute not only to the future of scientific research and education in Michigan, but to the well-being of our nation," said Ctirad Uher, chair of the Department of Physics. "It is truly a building for the 21st century."

Homer A. Neal, vice president for research and professor of physics, cited a long list of landmark discoveries made by earlier generations of U-M physicists---including the concepts of electron and proton spin that are "basic to all areas of science." Neal called on the physics faculty and students in the audience to continue the department's tradition of excellence and live up to the "great confidence that has been placed in us by our University and our state."

State Sen. John J.H. Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, spoke at the dedication on behalf of Michigan's taxpayers, who provided $22 million in state funding to build the new laboratory.

Schwarz asked the audience to join him in demanding adequate state funding for all public universities and oppose today's "Philistines and Luddites who rank higher education somewhere between road maintenance and prison construction."

With 66,000 square feet of workspace, the new Physics Research Laboratory is about the same size as the Harrison M. Randall Laboratory of Physics, which was built in 1924. The Physics Research Laboratory, built as an addition to the recently renovated Randall Lab, was designed to meet the special mechanical, electrical and logistical requirements of advanced physics research. A faculty and staff building committee, chaired by physics Prof. Donald I. Meyer, consulted with architects and contractors at all stages of design and construction to "turn faculty dreams and desires into reality," according to Uher.

Workspace in the new building is divided into two separate areas. Condensed matter, atomic and applied physics laboratories, which use vibration-sensitive equipment, are located below ground level. Labs with vibration-generating equipment---including high-energy physics, nuclear physics and astrophysics---are on the second and third floors.

To accommodate future utility system updates and increase flexibility, the new building has a modular design, so research areas can be easily expanded when more space is needed. The fourth floor, currently unfinished, also provides room for future growth. The Physics Research Laboratory was designed by the architectural firm of Luckenbach/Ziegelman & Partners Inc. and constructed by Ellis-Don Michigan Inc.

Regent Philip H. Power described the new building as a brick-and-concrete symbol of the U-M's support for science. "Even in this moment of national uncertainty in science funding, this University's commitment to basic research remains strong," he said.