Grand Challenges Research Building

A powerhouse for research just got even stronger.

Introducing the Grand Challenges Research Building.

Designed to Empower and Improve Everyday Lives

The rising Grand Challenges Research Building is designed to draw on the University's core strengths by supporting the expansion of the Optical Sciences, and provide research capacity for the new Center for Quantum Networks.

Exterior of new GCRB Building

The new Grand Challenges Research Building is a seven-story interdisciplinary masterpiece with every inch designed to foster collaboration in research and technology that will fundamentally shape the future of our society.

Woman in lab coat manipulating an instrument

The facility will leverage and amplify the University of Arizona’s greatest core research strengths: in the areas of engineering, optical science, lunar & planetary science, medicine, and much more.

In this building, world experts from a range of growing and cutting-edge fields will come together with undergraduate and graduate students to make discoveries and to teach the next generation of scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and engineers.


In the News

September 28, 2021 - Construction Underway on University's Grand Challenges Research Building

Betsy Cantwell

In the words of Senior VP of Research

"Beyond Attracting and reinforcing our industry partners with companies including Honeywell, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, Research conducted in the GCRB will translate into major societal impacts and allows us to apply world-class research to practical, real-world needs.”

—Betsy Cantwell

In the words of UArizona's President

“The co-location of multiple, interrelated research programs will create a hub that enables new opportunities for Fourth Industrial Revolution research that will help the university recruit and retain recognized faculty. GRCB will focus on several areas that have resulted in the university being ranked among the top 100 research institutions in the world.”

—Robert C. Robbins

Research and centers that will be located in the GCRB:

UArizona faculty, staff, and students across all disciplines work to unlock new research solutions and accelerate breakthrough discoveries using the power of information technologies enabled by The Institute for Computation and Data-Enabled Insight (ICDI) and other data-related units that will be housed at GCRB.

At UA major research is ongoing related to the development of advanced optical microscopes, endoscopes, and micro-endoscopes. Several faculty members are involved in multi-modality imaging (optical, MRI, ultrasound, photoacoustic, nuclear) which is a technique that enables scientists to study the microenvironment of a tumor.

Optical sciences research includes the use of lasers, lenses, spectrometers and other light-manipulating systems to design equipment for manufacturing, medicine, communications and space exploration. GCRB will greatly expand UA’s capacity in optical sciences, below are two areas that highlight UA’s research potential.  The College of Optical Sciences has over 50 active research programs and generates approximately $20 million in new research awards per year.

In August 2020 the NSF selected UA to lead and establish the Center for Quantum Networks.  The quantum approach to computing is new to the physics of transferring information, it merges quantum mechanics and information theory.  Quantum computing is expected to transform medicine, break encryption and revolutionize communications and artificial intelligence.  In addition to developing the quantum internet, the Center is charged with creating the curriculum for the new discipline, “quantum information science and engineering.”

Researchers at UA are world-leaders in designing and fabricating highly specialized optics. Students work alongside faculty on projects of global significance, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and OSIRIS-REx.

The first floor of GCRB will include large multi-functional space intended to support student engagement and will be capable of supporting some instructional activity. The GCRB will house the state-of-the-art equipment and technologies required to successfully carryout the research detailed above.


Many large air-tables are required to provide the space and stability needed to conduct most optical experiments.

Laser systems drive most optical experiments and have specific power, cooling, shielding and other related requirements.

The facility will have at least one quantum networking testbed and specialized equipment for quantum network element prototyping.

There will be smart spaces hardware prototyping and human testing laboratories Remote sensing prototyping laboratories, and biomedical optics hardware prototyping laboratories.


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