By Camelia Bulea, Associate Editor
San Antonio’s city council voted to invest in construction of the largest research facility in the history of Bexar County. It will provide $3.3 million, a large part of the sum necessary to erect the South Texas research facility, part of the Health Science Center campus.
The facility, which is expected to drive significant economic development in San Antonio, will cost $150 million to build and will have a total area of 250,000 square feet when finished. The largest part of the sum needed to build the facility, $100 million, came from university funds, while another $42 million was donated by various philanthropists.
The city funds will be delivered over three years, with the first payment, of $1.1 million, set for October of this year, when the facility is planned to open. Five years ago, the Health Science Center requested $5 million from the city, but at the time the city could provide only $2.1 million from a development fund.
The project was designed by New York architectural firm Rafael Viñoly Architects, and it will be powered in part by 758 solar panels on the building’s roof and placed over parking spaces, paid for by a federal grant. Projected energy savings will be almost $15,000 annually.
Currently under construction, the center is expected to create approximately 350 jobs and help the university attract some of the brightest minds in science. Researchers will work in 125,000 square feet of laboratory space. The rest of the building will serve as an open-space lab, designed to be shared by the various research teams to encourage interaction and the generation of new ideas.