NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma’s Research Campus is one of the most rapidly developing areas on the university’s Norman campus.
Over the next 20 years, said Kelvin Droegemeier, OU’s vice president for research, he hopes to see the area become an extension of the Norman and central Oklahoma communities.
The campus, a community of university researchers, government agencies and private industry partners, sits on a parcel of land just southeast of OU’s Lloyd Noble Center that, until a few years ago, was an empty field.
Today, the Research Campus is home to seven buildings devoted to research, with two more facilities planned. OU broke ground Oct. 30 on the next addition to the campus, the $15 million Radar Innovations Lab. OU officials expect the laboratory to open in December.
The new facility is at the center of the university’s efforts to expand its radar program into other applications beyond predicting the weather. OU officials say it will include a number of features, such as a high-bay garage designed to accommodate taller radar trucks that are fitted for storm chasing.
Another building project in the Research Campus is in the planning stages. Five Partners Place will be the fifth in a group of similarly named office buildings designed to house private companies that partner with the university in research projects.
In 20 years, Droegemeier said, he hopes to see the campus tied more closely together, although the buildings themselves are far apart.
Today, the buildings on the campus are separated by large parking lots and empty areas. Over the next two decades, Droegemeier said, he hopes to see the university build sidewalks and walkways to connect the buildings and replace the parking lots with one or two large parking structures.
“We really want to tie things together,” he said.
Droegemeier said he also expects the campus to attract more partners from private industry and government agencies in the coming decades.
Two federal agencies — the National Oceanographic and Aerospace Administration and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s South Central Climate Science Center — already have a presence on campus.
“If they have a presence here, then they tie in to the resources of the university,” he said.
By 2033, Droegemeier said, he hopes to see the campus drive economic development in the region. Even as it focuses on its role in the state at large, Droegemeier said he expects the research campus will remain firmly a part of OU. The campus won’t be a satellite location, he said, but simply the southern end of the main campus.
“We always want it to be part of the university,” he said.