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Cal-(IT)2: Researching the Future of the Internet

Susan Clark, NBBJ

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Cal-(IT)2) provides three types of specialized research laboratory space: cleanroom environments for materials and devices, wireless laboratory for networked infrastructure, and media laboratories for media arts. In addition, approximately two-thirds of the building space will be given over to research neighborhoods designed to accommodate specific projects. By design, these neighborhoods will foster multidisciplinary creative interaction, supported by shared spaces for cutting-edge and prototype visualization technologies. Social interaction of the researchers is a key feature of the research neighborhoods and other spaces.

The 220,000 sq. ft. project features a host of progressive technology-enabled research and conferencing space, including a six sided immersive virtual environment, a black box theater, and a 250 seat technology-intensive theater. Several conference rooms will enable scientific visualization, enabling interdisciplinary activities within the facility and global collaboration. The project is one of two buildings that comprise Cal-(IT)2, a joint effort of UC San Diego and UC Irvine.

New Media Arts facilities now enable research, production, and exhibition related to virtual reality, specialized audio, advanced audio, and video synthesis, motion capture, streaming media, and interactive, distributed performance. They include: an immersive visualization lab, a 3-D scanning and fabrication lab, a clean room including an nano-scale fabrication lab, and an optical networking lab, to name just a few.

Labs21 Connection:

Every aspect of design for the new CAL-(IT)2 is inspired by the vision of interconnected, ubiquitous broadband wireless communication, and the mission to bring new developments and strategic applications together through public/private partnerships. The building itself will serve as an instrument of the Institute's research and a partner in its discoveries.

The nature of the research at Cal-(IT)2 dictates that the physical and virtual environments accomodate change as a constant state. Taking this approach means that more of the building is actively being used than more conventional labs, which often condition and light environments of fixed elements. The project's interior design embodies this approach, providing for the long-term adaptability of integrated building support systems, while its massing reflects the diverse nature of the work occuring within.

The dynamic balance of the building's form expresses the coexistence of related, but opposing forces of research. The exterior forces of the Academic Court versus the rustic edge of the campus, along with the passage that connects them are resolved. The rectangular form on the courtyard side houses the flexible building support systems and support personnel. The curvilinear form on the canyon side responds directly to this natural boundary - the soft, enveloping shape providing for flexibility in its open plan.

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