SAN MARCOS – Texas State University hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, Aug. 31, to mark the start of construction on the university’s new Infrastructure Research Laboratory (IRL).
President Denise M. Trauth delivered remarks at the event. The ceremony took place at Texas State’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Park in San Marcos.
The IRL will become the third building at Texas State’s 58-acre STAR Park, joining the 36,000-square-foot STAR One technology incubator and the Archives and Research Center.
The 11,471-square-foot, $14 million facility will support the Ingram School of Engineering’s Civil Engineering program, providing the means to advance the field of structural engineering through cutting-edge research activities solving real-world problems. The IRL will support Texas State’s transdisciplinary research to develop practical, affordable ways to building more durable infrastructure faster and cheaper. In particular, the IRL will serve as a research hub for technology-enhanced infrastructure (TEI), which is focused on the application of technology to the life-cycle management of infrastructure assets.
The civil engineering curriculum at Texas State was holistically built upon on the concept of TEI. Students study device programming, secure data transfer and storage, predictive analytic tools and application-based maintenance protocols. This innovative undergraduate program prepares students to enter the civil engineering workforce with an ability to implement “smart technology” solutions.
The IRL features a 3-foot-thick reinforced concrete “strong floor” with tie-down anchorages and lateral reaction walls, along with two overhead cranes independently capable of carrying 30 tons. A comprehensive range of hydraulic actuators, pumps and closed loop loading systems will permit the application of static, dynamic and fatigue loads, and a variety of data acquisition systems will allow IRL to implement a wide variety of testing configurations for studying the behavior of structural elements and systems both on scale models and prototypes.
For example, structural components subject to various loading modes—such as reinforced and precast/prestressed concrete deck panels, beams, columns and their connections, multi-story structures and multi-girder bridges—can be tested utilizing the IRL’s facilities. Part of the 2,526-square-foot strong floor with a 36-foot clear height can be utilized for physical simulation of environmental green infrastructure such as permeable pavement, rain gardens, bioretention and constructed wetlands for their responses to controlled environmental factors.
The IRL addresses a pressing need for the rapidly growing Austin-San Antonio corridor. In 2018 the Austin City Council adopted a $1.4 billion Corridor Construction Program to further develop nine major Austin corridors. It is anticipated that the bulk of construction will occur between 2021-24. By growing the regional ecosystem through activities promoting and supporting commercialization, entrepreneurship and innovation, the IRL will be a new driving force for infrastructure research and entrepreneurship in the Central Texas region.
Project architects are Alamo Architects and contractor is Bartlette Cocke General.
Infrastructure Research Laboratory Vital Statistics
Infrastructure Research Lab at Texas State University
Cost: $14 million
Size: 11,471 gross square feet
Construction began: August 2021
First classes: Fall 2022
Facilities: The Structural and Materials Testing Lab is equipped for full scale, component and material testing that will feature:
- A 93-foot-by-29-foot reinforced concrete strong floor, 3 feet thick, for testing of loads up to 3600 kilopounds (kips).
- Tie-down capacity on the strong floor (tension/compression) on a 3-foot-by-3-foot grid.
- 2,526-square-foot strong floor provides a 36-foot clear height and testing area for prestressed I-beam structural components up to 90 feet long.
- Adjacent to the strong floor is a 15-foot-by-19-foot reinforced concrete reaction wall, 26 feet by 9 inches tall, capable of resisting a 300 kip load.
- Two tandem 30-ton overhead cranes.
Architect: Alamo Architects
Contractor: Bartlett Cocke General Construction