KU acquires Wakarusa Research Facility

The KU campus grew a little in size recently with the purchase of an existing building and land on the far west end of Lawrence.

The Wakarusa Research Facility, built in 1994 at 1315 Wakarusa Dr., was acquired by the KU Center for Research Inc., the university’s not-for-profit research foundation. The 20,432-square-foot, two-story building has been leased by the center since 1999 and houses a variety of KU researchers.

For example, professor of speech-language-hearing Steven Barlow's Communication Neuroscience Laboratories are located there, as well as research projects in the School of Social Welfare, the Life Span Institute and the Center for Research on Learning. An Alzheimer’s caregivers support group began meeting there in 2010, and Garmin International rented space last year for a satellite office that employed a number of KU student interns. Garmin has since relocated its operations to the Bioscience & Technology Business Center on KU’s west campus.

KUCR used $1.4 million in private funds, not state funds, to close the deal. It anticipates spending an additional $150,000 in the near term to upgrade the air conditioning and alarm systems and make necessary repairs and modifications.

“It’s a great facility for clinical programs, behavioral research and other studies that involve the public,” said Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies and president of the Center for Research. “It’s also a nice complement to other types of campus research space. There’s ample accessible parking and a welcoming atmosphere, and it’s easy to get to from the turnpike or anywhere in Lawrence.” He described purchasing the building, rather than continuing to pay rent, as a prudent financial decision.

The building sits on 2.66 acres of land, providing opportunities for future expansion. It is located two blocks north of the Life Sciences Research Laboratories, a cluster of buildings that houses KU’s Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis as well as the expansion facility of the Bioscience and Technology Business Center.

As currently configured, the Wakarusa Research Facility consists primarily of conference and office space that can be readily adapted for a variety of purposes. Three larger areas on the main floor house physiology labs.

“This is not a biosciences laboratory building,” said Warren. “It’s most appropriate for research in the social sciences, education and other disciplines that don’t require wet-lab space. We need a good mix of research facilities at KU and this helps us meet that need.”

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Malika Lyon, coordinator, International Visiting Scholars
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