Room-flooding natural light; multi-level three-dimensional artwork; a large west-facing terrace. These aren't the specs of a new multimillion-dollar house, but rather Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Science Center.

Construction on the four-level, 105,000-square-foot research and educational center recently ended, and a public dedication is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. today. The event also allows for building tours of the modern, state-of-the-art home of the Linus Pauling Institute.

But the $62.5 million building has more than just a pretty facade. Along with administrative offices and meeting areas, a majority of the third floor houses a large, contiguous laboratory running east and west. Noisy lab equipment is separated from the research areas in short hallways, and large desks for students run along the north-facing windows.

Only two partial walls divide the lab into three areas of the institute's research fields: the healthy aging program, the cardiovascular and metabolic disease area and the cancer chemo protection program.

"We didn't want a lab environment with a lot of walls," said Steve Lawson, the administrative officer for the institute.

The open format, designed by the architectural firm of ZGF out of Portland, invites discussion - a marked departure from the traditional square room-style laboratories.

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The Linus Pauling Institute doesn't reside in an academic department; faculty from different disciplines come together for the institute's research on micronutrients and phytochemicals relating to aging, immune function and chronic disease in humans.

Although all research employees have an academic department as a home base, the science center houses 12 principal investigators, three research professors, 22 research staff and currently 12 graduate students - a number that varies through the year.

The institute has aimed to give its researchers a home ever since it moved to OSU from Palo Alto, Calif., in 1996.

"For us, it's a way to keep the institute coherent and increase the possibility of people communicating," Lawson said.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or gail.cole@gazettetimes.com.

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