The University of Arizona’s four-story Applied Research Building (ARB) serves as the home for research furthering space exploration, advanced manufacturing, and the development of imaging technology. Completed in January 2023, the 89,000-square-foot building provides the university new and regionally unique research capabilities with state-of-the-art equipment and technology while also consolidating four colleges and eight interdisciplinary programs to one location. ARB has a mix of space types, including high-bay payload assembly areas, a large-scale thermal vacuum chamber, varying types of laboratories, clean rooms, faculty offices, collaboration spaces and conference rooms. The building specifically focuses on research programs related to Pillar Two of the University’s Strategic Plan, Grand Challenges, which includes such areas as space exploration, artificial intelligence, the environment, and disease prevention. Several university research programs such as imaging technology, advanced manufacturing, CubeSat design/fabrication/testing, and balloon payload integration will move into the ARB.
A big focus in the teams' collaboration was fueled around the building's main component – the thermal vacuum chamber. Weighing in at 33.5 tons, the TV chamber is the largest residing on any university in the world and is utilized by researchers to simulate environmental conditions in space. Early on, McCarthy had confidence in their procedures and quality to set this irreplaceable piece of equipment at the center of the construction operation without issue – a high-level risk many competitors would shy away from. After originally being left out of the scope of the project, McCarthy was able to locate and hire an engineer capable of taking on the task of installation. The project team ultimately features two design engineers – one for the TV chamber and one for the rest of the project. In addition to putting the University of Arizona on the map, the TV chamber also helps diversify the outside organizations that want to use the space and require this unique technology for testing and research providing other economic opportunities.