BOULDER, CO-University of Colorado-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics recently broke ground on a $13-million expansion of its primary research building. Another 45,000-sf is being added to the existing 60,000-sf building, adding new laboratories, offices and conference rooms.

The facility is at the CU Boulder Research Park at 1234 Innovation Dr. bordering Colorado Avenue.

LASP has grown steadily since the early 1990s, when the laboratory employed about 72 research and professional staff and focused on one project at a time under contract to NASA, its primary funding source.Now, LASP, which receives $35 million annually from federal funding sources, employs 180 full-time research and professional staff, about 100 students and is conducting five major flight-build programs — all in various stages of completion.

Besides the five big projects, LASP has contracts for more than 140 data and research programs with the NASA and the National Science Foundation.

The new building expansion will allow LASP to bring its physical space in line with increased project demand brought on by its shift from single-project operations to multiple overlapping projects, in which several instruments are in various stages of development simultaneously.

“It used to be that LASP would work on one program at a time and that we would be finishing the construction of a satellite, and instruments for the satellite, before we would go on to working on another instrument,” says Caroline Himes, executive associate director of LASP.

“We currently have five projects all in the design phase, and once those designs are completed we will need lab space to build them all,” she adds. “We’ve already doubled up on lab and office space to the point that we’re literally crammed to the gills.”

The Denver architectural firm AR7 Hoover Desmond, architects for the current Research Park building completed in 1991, also is designing the second phase of LASP. Final design will be completed in early summer with construction beginning in late summer or early fall. Completion is set for November 2005 but could be earlier, Himes says.

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