FINALIST: NEW CONSTRUCTION
Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine, New York City
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The hypothesis put forward by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine was a simple one: If we build it, will the scientists come from around the globe?
The evidence – which is provided by the Michael F. Price Center for Genetic and Translational Medicine in the Harold and Muriel Block Research Pavilion – supports the affirmative.
The $200 million, 223,000-square-foot research building is equipped with 40 labs, including a Biosafety Level 3 lab for research on highly infectious diseases. The building also contains conference rooms, a lecture hall, and a 25,000-square-foot animal vivarium in the basement.
To avoid any cross-contamination within the building, the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services for the labs and the vivarium are independent. Each room in the vivarium is hermetically sealed, which required airtight penetrations for a myriad of MEP services routed through the basement’s masonry walls. To avoid mold and mildew, the site was kept as dry as possible during construction by utilizing mold-resistant materials and onsite inspections by the college’s health and safety department.
The building is ventilated with 100-percent outside air. Eight 10-foot-wide heat wheels provide pre-heating and pre-cooling of the outside air to reduce the building’s massive loads. Other energy-efficient elements include daylight-responsive lighting and steam-absorption chillers supplied by the college’s central steam plant. Due to its energy-efficient features, the building received the maximum incentive available from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), according to Senior Vice President Joseph DelPozzo with consulting engineer WSP Flack + Kurtz.
Two diesel emergency generators can supply nearly the full electrical load of the building. Due to the size of the generators and the air handlers, this equipment was installed on the 5-story building prior to construction of the penthouse’s steel framing. “The building has an MEP infrastructure robust enough to support a 40-story office building,” says DelPozzo. To allow work to continue on the lab floors before the penthouse was enclosed, the penthouse floor was waterproofed.
Exposed utilities and cable trays in the labs and the corridors simplify access for maintenance, much of which can be accomplished in the corridors without disturbing researchers in the labs. Power is buried in the floor slabs. Interior surfaces in the Price Center consist of exposed structural concrete, architectural concrete, mahogany paneling, and ipe flooring.
Construction of the fast-tracked facility was expedited by designing a stone curtainwall incorporating granite panels that were secured to trusses, which were then erected by crane and welded into place on the concrete structure. This procedure eliminated a need for time-consuming scaffolding and provided a high degree of quality control. “We could see that the margins between the panels were perfect before the trusses were erected,” says Project Executive Jeff Levy with Tishman Construction.
The building’s glazed curtainwall is a sheer, mullionless design. Joints and reveals are carefully aligned across the glazing, the granite panels, and the penthouse’s metal panels. The transparency of the glass highlights a spiral staircase of glass and steel that suggests the double-helix structure of DNA, a primary focus of the facility’s researchers.