PNNL

PNNL contract launches $90 million energy research building in Richland

PNNL Director Steven Ashby, right, greets Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., in the hallway of the new 24,000-square-foot Discovery Hall during the April dedication ceremony of the new $9.8 million building at the Richland research facility.
PNNL Director Steven Ashby, right, greets Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., in the hallway of the new 24,000-square-foot Discovery Hall during the April dedication ceremony of the new $9.8 million building at the Richland research facility. Tri-City Herald file

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is moving forward with plans for a $90 million new energy sciences research building on its Richland campus.

A contract to design and construct the building has been awarded to a Houston-based team of Harvey Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture.

The facility, to cover 110,000 to 145,000 square feet, will be built on what’s now lawn west of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on Innovation Boulevard on the PNNL campus.

The contract, valued at $64.2 million, should provide opportunities for local construction subcontractors and suppliers.

Additional costs of the project cover expenses such as oversight of the project, contingency costs, safety and environmental reviews and equipment and furnishings.

Harvey Cleary Builders previously served as the general construction contractor for a $75 million biological and computational sciences facility built on the PNNL campus in 2008-09.

Forefront of energy science

“PNNL’s Energy Sciences Capability Project keeps our national lab’s work at the forefront of science,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse on Tuesday.

The state-of-the-art research facility will benefit the entire nation and support local economic growth, he said.

Discovery Hall PNNL Ashby.jpg
PNNL Director Steven Ashby, right, greets Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., in the hallway of the new 24,000-square-foot Discovery Hall during the April dedication ceremony of the new $9.8 million building at the Richland research facility. Tri-City Herald file

“Breakthrough research conducted here may lead to reduced vehicle emissions, more efficient fertilizer production, and the ability to turn waste into fuels and products more efficiently and economically,” said Steven Ashby, PNNL director.

The new project is moving forward with federal funding approved by Congress in two fiscal years.

Congress approved $20 million for fiscal 2018 and $24 million for fiscal 2019, with more money expected to be approved in subsequent years.

In addition, Washington state approved $8 million for scientific equipment for the new building to help leverage federal money for the project.

Design work on the new building is expected to be done through the summer, with ground being broken for construction late this year or early 2020, according to PNNL.

Scientists should be moving into the building, which is not yet named, in mid to late 2021.

The building is expected to have labs and workstations for about 175 PNNL and visiting scientists, engineers and research support staff.

Enhance regional research

It is planned to enhance regional research collaborations, including those with the University of Washington and Washington State University, Ashby said.

Now PNNL’s fundamental research in advanced chemistry, materials science and computing research — areas in which PNNL is a research leader — is dispersed into several buildings at PNNL.

The state-of-the-art facility will consolidate the work in one place and give scientists access to the most advanced equipment available, said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller.

The Washington state money is expected to buy an advanced nuclear magnetic resonance machine, similar to those used for medical imaging and a specific type of next-generation electron microscope.

Both instruments look at materials at the atomic level to understand their structures, providing information to scientists as they design new materials with specific properties.

The new building is part of a campus modernization program at PNNL.

PNNL opened Discovery Hall, a science and technology collaboration event center in April. It has also opened an Engineering and Analysis Building, a General Purpose Chemistry Laboratory and a Systems Engineering Building in recent years.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.
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