The ultimate success of the renovated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Super Computing Facility, Oakland, CA, was based upon a number of essential ingredients: the timely convergence of dedicated private developer, Encinal Companies; a prospective governmental tenant, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy (LBNL/DOE); a creative architect with a collaborative design team, Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz (KMD); and a prime piece of abandoned real estate located within the City of Oakland’s downtown area.
First, there was the need. Constrained by limited available space on the University of California Berkeley Campus, LBNL officials began the search three years ago for more appropriate space so that they could expand the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC). The Center was to serve a country-wide research hub for scientists studying everything from global warming to alternative, next-generation energy technologies.
Secondly, there came opportunity. A major ongoing goal of the City of Oakland was to focus on the revitalization of downtown Oakland, to be realized through urban growth, increased employment opportunities, modernization of existing building projects, and improved city and urban planning potential.
Finally, there came the ability. The ability to see and realize the potential of merging LBNL’s need and opportunity offered by the City of Oakland with an insightful, creative design-build team was a truly collaborative effort. Construction costs, project financing, and leasing strategies were scrutinized by one and all. When the talents and abilities of all the players met in a mutually beneficial effort, the project became a viable opportunity for creativity and innovation.
Highlights of the 75,000-square-foot project include:
• Four floors of tenant improvements, expansive seismic and building code upgrades, as well as a 16,000-square-foot, ground-floor addition with a 36-inch raised computer access floor and complete site design.
• A more lightweight, contemporary exterior of stainless steel-clad metal and a high-performance, double-insulated glass curtainwall system to replace the former heavy precast concrete panel skin.
• The gutting of the building’s entire basement level to devote space solely to the intensive mechanical, electrical, and telecommunications needs of LBNL’s state-of-the-art super computer facility.• A level of security that reflects the facility’s high-level research needs while remaining visually coherent and complementary to the surrounding neighborhood.