The University of Miami Frost Institute of Chemistry and Molecular Science (FICMS) is on schedule to open in July 2022. This building is the first of multiple planned interdisciplinary research centers under the Frost Institutes for Science and Engineering.
Dean of UM’s College of Arts and Sciences Leonidas Bachas, who was appointed director of the Frost Institutes in 2019, said construction is one month ahead of schedule despite complications due to COVID-19. Construction for the $60 million project site is expected to be completed in May 2022.
“The only difference I’ve seen is that now the workers are wearing masks,” Bachas said.
The development of a multidisciplinary research hub on campus became possible following a $100 million gift from longtime donors Phillip and Patricia Frost.
Once completed, FICMS will create a space for students studying engineering and science to coexist and interact.
“This will be an environment where students will learn from each other and be able to merge the experimental with the theoretical,” Bachas said.
Professor and director of undergraduate studies in the chemistry department Marc Knecht was involved in the project as a member of the building’s design committee. He said the building’s open design was created with a focus on promoting collaboration.
“The design committee wanted to focus on bringing the different groups and ideas together,” Knecht said. “These collaborations will advance science in new and unpredictable manners opening new avenues to connect chemistry with all different types of sciences, whether it be engineering disciplines all the way to the medical school and environmental disciplines.”
The building was designed by Harvard Jolly Architecture, a Florida-based architecture firm and is being constructed by Skanska, one of the largest U.S.-based construction and development companies, according to Global Construction Review. The 90,000-square-foot structure marks Skanska’s second project for UM, after building the LEED Platinum-certified Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios.
Bachas said the location of the institute was also chosen carefully to ensure the preservation of plant life on UM’s campus.
“It was important to preserve the green spaces, which are so characteristic of our campus,” Bachas said. “The building was designed to minimize the impact on the environment while keeping the Miami experience intact.”
The building’s design includes large windows that will allow passersby to see scientists at work.
Knecht said FICMS and the Frost Institutes will bring new technologies to campus that will enable students to examine materials on a subatomic scale, adding that the institute is the first step towards realizing the university’s vision of creating more spaces where science and engineering can coexist.
“It’s going to be transformational,” Knecht said. “It is going to be a South Florida hub and bring in molecular scientists and engineers from all over.”