IOWA STATE Biorenewables Complex Modernizes Facilities

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AMES, IOWA (DDCJOURNAL.COM) November 1, 2013
Warren Madden, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance

Biorenewables Complex Modernizes Facilities At Iowa State University

As part of efforts to contribute to an industry that’s growing significantly in prominence, Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, is developing a Biorenewables Complex to accommodate the research and education needs for the Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Department.

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“Iowa and Iowa State have made a commitment to the area of biorenewables, and our Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Department has been housed in a very old building that is beyond its useful life. It needed to be replaced,” says Warren Madden, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance for the university. “It was worn out in terms of leaky roofs and obsolete utility systems, and it was not designed to meet the modern kinds of research and teaching programs we are doing. The Biorenewables Complex lets us consolidate in a new building. It is an important part of the Iowa economy to the extent that biofuels and the use of biomaterials are developing.”

The Biorenewables Complex is located on a convenient and accessible portion of the western side of the university’s campus. Divided into two phases, and with the $32 million first phase already completed, the $106.5 million project plays a key role in advancing industry research and the state’s economy alike.

“This is a very important part of Iowa’s economy as we look at ways to produce fuels from alternative sources,” Madden says. “It is certainly part of the country’s focus to become less dependent on energy from outside the United States. It is an exciting project, and we look forward to having this facility operational.”


Already completed and operating, the first phase of the complex consisted of the construction of the Biorenewables Research Laboratory. Housing industry-leading technology, the research facility is adaptable and offers students an introduction to and experience with a thriving industry.

“The building is designed in such a way that as technology and research needs change, it can be more efficiently modified to meet whatever the new tools and techniques are,” Madden says. “The career opportunities available for students who major in the disciplines that are connected to these programs are great. They have very high placement rates and a lot of great job options available.”

One of the tools that the Facilities Department used during construction to facilitate this was the Multivista construction documentation process. Using a photograph management system like Multivista’s on a relatively complex project like this will supplement the record drawings and enable the building to be future-proofed.

According to Madden, the university envisions the complex benefiting many different stakeholder groups. “We can provide today’s students with a better learning environment, we can do research, and we are trying to expand our outreach and extension efforts with industry relationships,” Madden says.  


Currently under construction, Phase II includes a 70,000 square-foot office and classroom wing, a 100,000 square-foot research and teaching wing, an 8,000 square-foot atrium and a 150-seat au-  ditorium. Scheduled for completion in 2014, the complex promotes interdisciplinary study and coordination.

“The building is designed so that teams and people can get together,” Madden says. “The learning environment for students in the auditorium is interactive and will let them work better. The laboratory and the gathering spaces are designed so that research teams can meet and share information. The historical arrangement in which a researcher stays in a lab to work is obsolete. Today, most of this is done with interdisciplinary groups, and we hope that this building’s design will encourage all of that.”


Like all new construction projects on Iowa State University’s campus, the Biorenewables Complex is striving to reach LEED® Gold. The Biorenewables Research Laboratory achieved LEED® Gold, and the university has placed a high priority on implementing green initiatives in the other portions of the complex.

“Our goal of achieving LEED® Gold was an important part of the design criteria,” Madden says. “We have to go through all of the evaluations to actually qualify. I think we can be pretty confident that this facility will meet Gold standards, and maybe even go beyond that. Our goal is to certainly end up with a building that will achieve a minimum standard of Gold and to be sustainable.”

The Biorenewables Research Laboratory has already opened up new opportunities for Iowa State University. As the university makes progress on the remainder of the complex, the Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Department is eager to transition into the new facility and advance the department’s important work.

“Our Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Department and the people connected with it are in a very old building and are anxious to move into this complex,” Madden says. “I think that they are going to end up moving from a pretty antiquated space to a modern, state-ofthe- art facility. We expect that it will increase productivity and morale. Our hope is that it lets us attract some of the best teaching and research faculty in the country. The biorenewables lab that has been completed on that site has let us undertake some really cutting-edge research.”


Embracing emerging technology in construction documentation, Iowa State University contracted Multivista for the ISU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Building. Multivista is the world’s leading construction photography and visual documentation service, offering customized photo, video and webcam solutions for projects of every size. Multivista offers a sophisticated and comprehensive approach to construction photo documentation that promotes transparency on the jobsite, increases quality and, ultimately, reduces cost. The end results are better-built and better-managed projects completed on time and within budget. Multivista delivers the most relevant, accurate and comprehensive project information available in the construction industry today. Multivista has thoroughly enjoyed working with Iowa State University, OPN Architects, The Weitz Company, and countless others on the new Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering complex.

Learn more about Multivista’s visual documentation services. Request a demo today.

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