By Published: June 27, 2019

Popular program to get improved digs with $21.8 million facility expansion

Construction of a new University of Colorado Boulder integrative physiology building reached a literal apex today, as the final steel beam was ceremoniously signed and laid atop the new structure.

signing the last beam

Provost Russell Moore signs the final beam to be placed in the building. CU Boulder photo by Casey Cass.

A formal topping-off event was held at the site, home to a new $21.8 million expansion of the Ramaley Biology Building. Integrative physiology provides a foundation for future doctors and nurses, and a firm basis for varied health professions and pursuits. It also provides a strong foundation for careers in basic physiological science.

Researchers in the department are known for their work on sleep deprivation, how light disrupts sleep in children, potential ways to slow vascular aging, and how a bacterium found in soil could treat PTSD and depression.

Topping-off ceremonies derive from Scandinavia and date to the Dark Ages, but today’s event focused on the future.

“This new facility will serve new generations of students, faculty and staff, and make new innovations in a vital discipline that has become one of the most popular majors at CU Boulder, as well as a dynamic gateway to the health professions,” said CU Boulder Provost Russell Moore. 

“As a faculty member in integrative physiology, I am personally delighted to see where the department has arrived, and how it is captivating new generations of students.” 

bar chart with statistics on materials used

By the numbers: This bar chart shows some key metrics of the integrative physiology expansion, so far. The nine animals spotted at the construction site included six raccoons, two squirrels and one bear.

Moore was one of several dignitaries attending the event. Others included Ann Schmiesing, senior vice provost for academic resource management; Mark Opp, chair of integrative physiology; and John Pittman, president of the Fransen Pittman construction company.  

Attendees signed final piece of structural steel, which was then lifted into place for the building. 

“This new state-of-the-art facility will enable a program that is already on the cutting edge to continue its leadership and take its research and discovery to a new level,” Opp said. “And it creates a central home for integrative physiology that is reflective of the program’s reputation and strengthens its identity on campus.”

The project includes 27,000 square feet of new construction that will create new state-of-the-art research space for a department that serves the second-most undergraduate majors of any program on campus. The project is slated for completion in spring 2020.

The building, being erected just north of Norlin Library, will function as a long-awaited hub for department activity. 

The Department of Integrative Physiology was formed in 2003 by unifying the former Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology with parts of the former Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology. It quickly became one of the largest undergraduate degrees on campus—though the department was never joined physically. 

For more than 15 years the department has had no administrative hub and has been running its research, teaching and administration primarily out of Carlson Gymnasium, Ramaley Biology, Clare Small and sites on the CU Boulder East Campus. 

“Integrative physiology has been operating an outstanding research program from an old gymnasium for over a decade,” James W.C. White, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, noted this year. “Providing them with a proper research facility is sure to elicit some truly exciting breakthroughs.”

beam in place

Workers maneuver the final beam into place during a topping-off ceremony for the new extension to the Ramaley Biology building at CU Boulder. Photo by Casey Cass