The total cost of the new building is currently estimated at approximately $35 million, although the actual cost will not be known until final construction bids are received in late February 2010. NIST has already contributed $22.5 million to the construction, and the University of Colorado has committed to providing the balance of the required funds.
Construction of the JILA Expansion is currently scheduled to begin May 2010, with building occupancy tentatively scheduled for January 2012.
The additional space is planned to accommodate approximately 30 JILA fellows and their research groups, based both on polling of the current JILA fellows about their plans for group size and using historical trends. There are many early-career researchers among the current 29 JILA fellows, and their research groups are expected to grow significantly. Thus the JILA Expansion is intended to support the natural growth of research groups for the current fellows, but it is not intended to support a significant increase in the number of fellows. The growth in staff will be almost entirely among students, postdoctoral researchers, visitors, and other temporary staff.
Meeting current standards of air cleanliness and temperature control and freedom from vibration in the new laboratories does nothing to improve the poor conditions in the old laboratory. Since the space vacated by groups moving to the new building is now empty, it is most economical to renovate its air system as soon as possible—certainly prior to moving new groups into that space.
The Quantum Physics Division remains one of the premier fundamental research physics laboratories in the world, a jewel in the crown for NIST and the Physics Laboratory. Although severe economic pressures are being brought to bear on NIST, the Quantum Physics Division, and JILA, at present there has been a strong response by NIST that will strengthen and maintain the level of excellence for the near future.
The Quantum Physics Division has been growing in scope over the past few years, but this growth cannot continue forever, and there is concern that JILA cannot grow larger without sacrificing its strong sense of community. Atomic, molecular, and optical physics and biological physics should not continue to expand, but rather the Quantum Physics Division should maintain the present levels of excellence in its present fields of endeavor.
It is recommended that the Physics Laboratory should continue a high level of funding for the Quantum Physics Division, renovate the laboratories in the old building, increase the number of visiting fellows by shortening visits for one or two weeks, and seek both established experts and highly talented young researchers (e.g., postdoctoral researchers).