Laboratory of the Year
Improving Past Excellence
A groundbreaking building in 1981, the Sherman Fairchild Biochemistry Building received a
2012 sustainable, flexible, and bright face lift from Payette.
Following Harvard University’s creation of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biolo- gy Department, a new home was sought; ultimately resulting in the rebirth of the
Sherman Fairchild Biochemistry Building.
The building was considered groundbreaking
at its completion in 1981, known as one of the
world's first biochemistry buildings. However,
30 years later, it desperately needed renovating
to meet the department's growing needs.
It is for this forward-thinking, outside-the-box transformation that R&D Magazine
awards Payette’s design with a Special Mention – Renovation Award in the 2013 Laboratory of the Year competition.
any additional cooling loads in a particular
space. This strategy allowed for right-sizing
cooling equipment based on each particular
space’s needs and reduced the building's
overall energy use. Typically, a chilled beam
could provide the necessary cooling, but in
particularly high heat load spaces, high-tem-
perature cooling fan coil units were utilized.
The use of a heat shift chiller accomplished
minimization of waste heat by shifting heat
rejection at equipment to preheat at low load
spaces through the hydronic system. Natural
ventilation was also maintained at non-labo-
ratory spaces, providing a reduction in cool-
ing requirements during seasonal periods.
The building also includes low-emitting
materials throughout. 98% of the equipment
and appliances by rated power are ENERGY
STAR certified in the building.
The laboratory has a strong connection to the exterior, and
the design promotes deep natural light penetration into the
center of the existing building. Image: Payette
Density drives design, flexibility
The new laboratory design for the building
focuses on the 50% increase in population density, while changing the fundamental relationship between bench-based and equipment-based laboratory
space. Support spaces in research facilities are traditionally located within
the center of the building in a series of rooms without natural daylight and
disconnected from the bench area. However, the new design altered this relationship by locating an entire zone of support spaces—primarily tissue culture—along the exterior wall. This allowed as much daylight as possible into
the support spaces, letting light penetrate deep into the center of the building.
“Many new laboratories that are being designed and built today are based
on laboratory models that were innovative when they were developed in the
80s or 90s, but they don’t always reflect the use patterns of science today,” says
James Collins Jr., FAIA, principal-in-charge of the project, Payette, Boston.
The permeable central support zone of the laboratory fosters a coherent
laboratory culture and includes frequent cross connections to enhance connectivity and shared resources and equipment that allow for higher density
at individual benches. Automatic horizontal sliding doors promote sterile
practices and increase space for equipment. The zoning approach, validated
by shadow studies, allows flexibility for each floor to alter the location of the
open bench area and the support zones.
A sustainable solution
The renovation of the five-story laboratory achieved LEED CI-Platinum
certification, earning 95 points out of the 110 possible. It holds the highest
LEED points for any research laboratory in the world.
The team started with setting the makeup air rate in the building to 1 cfm/
sf. This criterion decreased air handler size and ductwork and met the flexibility goals for fume hood density, no additional ventilation was required.
Next, the team included hydronic-based cooling devices to mitigate
Lighting the way
To execute an efficient laboratory lighting design, Payette proposed a task-ambient approach utilizing a custom-designed LED task light.
“In this laboratory we minimized the ambient lighting and maximized the
task lighting,” says Collins. “The added benefit of a task light is that you can get
the light source closer to the place where scientists need the light—the bench.”
In many cases the task light is provided at the underside of the lowest shelf
on the bench. However, this location is easily blocked by equipment and does
not reach the bench's leading edge. Alternatively, the Payette team designed
the new fixture to attach to the leading edge of an extended upper shelf.
Each bench has its own task light that is individually controlled. “The light
that we custom-designed has an integral motion sensor that looks at the area
of only the bench it is serving,” says Jeff DeGregorio, AIA, associate principal,
Payette. When a researcher arrives at their bench, they turn on the task light
if additional light is required beyond that provided by the ambient lighting.
If they leave for an extended period of time, the light automatically turns off.
The lighting control is down to a person-by-person level through the open
laboratory. The task light provides over a 55% reduction in lighting energy
usage for the laboratory.
To deliver 80 footcandles (fc) requested by the owner for worksurfaces, a
pendant light between benches provides 30 fc and the task light delivers 50 fc
of illumination. Windows located at the end of the benches provide natural
light. When sufficient daylight is available to meet the lighting targets, the
overhead fixtures gradually dim, allowing for a 15% reduction in overall
lighting power density.