During DRI’s early years, it operated from various locations on the university campus in Reno. Through the efforts of Count Alessandro Dandini, DRI secured approximately 450 acres north of Reno, which became the Dandini Research Park and the eventual home of DRI’s Reno campus. The first building was completed in 1977.
Although DRI opened the Solar Energy Research Facility, a solar heated and cooled applied-research center, in Boulder City in 1977, the physical location of most DRI faculty and staff in Las Vegas fluctuated until the Southern Nevada Science Center was completed in 1992.
A dynamic organization from the beginning, DRI developed a number of programs that would eventually be transferred to other parts of the university system.
DRI designed and built the Fleischmann Atmospherium Planetarium, an early attempt at “green” architecture, and directed its operation from 1963 until 1975 when it became part of UNR, and DRI moved into temporary quarters at its new campus location.
Early DRI research on congenital heart defects and heart disease eventually led to the formation of the University of Nevada School of Medicine in 1969. Other programs established by DRI that have moved to either UNR or UNLV include:
- Basque Studies program in Reno, the only one of its kind in the nation at the time
- Oral History program in Reno
- Museum of Natural History in Las Vegas
In 1969 DRI and UNLV became autonomous institutions of the University of Nevada System of Higher Education.