Pacific Northwest National Laboratory had three new buildings to celebrate on Friday.
Officials gathered to ceremonially break ground on a “collaboration center” on Horn Rapids Road on the Department of Energy national lab’s Richland campus.
Construction is expected to be completed on a nearby PNNL office building in early 2017, and this week the first workers started moving into PNNL’s new general purpose chemistry laboratory.
Together the three buildings add nearly 566,500 square feet for PNNL staff. Their price tag, combined and with furnishings, comes to almost $30 million.
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A few years ago PNNL and the Department of Energy Pacific Northwest Site Office developed a 10-year campus renewal strategy, said laboratory director Steven Ashby.
“It defines how we will acquire, modernize and sustain facilities and infrastructure to ensure the lab is equipped to meet the research priorities for DOE and our nation not only now, but long into the future,” he said.
It defines how we will acquire, modernize and sustain facilities and infrastructure to ensure the lab is equipped to meet the research priorities for DOE and our nation not only now, but long into the future.
Steven Ashby, PNNL director
PNNL needs world-class facilities to conduct world-class research, he said. A modern campus also is key to recruiting top scientists and engineers to PNNL.
The collaboration center “will serve as a meeting ground for science and technology thought leaders,” said Roger Snyder, manager of the Pacific Northwest Site Office.
In the past PNNL has had to rent event tents on occasion, for lack of other space on campus when playing host to large workshops or meetings.
Its largest meeting space is an auditorium, which lacks flexibility for varied activities. For one symposium, the lab had to bring in what Ashby joked was a “circus tent” because the lab had no place to serve lunch.
The collaboration center will have large and small spaces for meetings, including a main room with three zones that can be opened up to accommodate 450 people.
Construction on the 24,000-square-foot center is expected to continue through 2017, with the center ready to use in 2018.
But PNNL has already booked its first event for the center.
The American Chemical Society is holding its Northwest regional meeting at the lab for the first time in 2018, Ashby said. About 400 people are expected to attend.
“All of this is great news for the Tri-Cities community,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.
All of this is great news for the Tri-Cities community.
Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.
As PNNL plays host to more science and technology conferences, workshops and meetings, visitors will need places to stay, he said. They eat at Tri-City restaurants, visit breweries and wineries, and see the region’s parks and natural landscapes.
PNNL officials said about 2,000 scientists, engineers and others visit PNNL annually, with each visitor spending about $200 a day in the Tri-Cities.
The collaboration center will be used for the increasing number of meetings among researchers in different disciplines and working for different agencies as complex science requires more collaboration.
The collaboration center is being built by Fowler General Construction of Richland. Its budget, including furnishings, is $9.8 million.
The construction contract for the new office building and chemistry laboratory building went to DGR*Grant construction of Richland.
Both buildings are on time and on budget, Ashby said.
The 16,468-square-foot chemistry laboratory addresses a long-standing need for a new lab with ventilation and other features to support wet chemistry work. It is designed with easily configurable lab furnishings if needs change in the future.
Staff from the lab’s National Security Directorate will be its first tenants, working on technologies to detect radiation and prevent the movement of radioactive materials through smuggling or other illegal activity.
The 26,000-square-foot office building will provide office space for researchers.
PNNL’s 10-year plan includes finishing about one building a year. It dedicated the first of the new buildings, the Systems Engineering Building, in August 2015.
The next three buildings “demonstrate a continued investment in and commitment to the continuity of this laboratory,” Ashby said.
They represent an important step forward in ensuring the lab has facilities that are reliable, sustainable and adaptable to meet future scientific challenges, Newhouse said.