At midway through fiscal year 2019, PNNL (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) and PNSO (Pacific Northwest Site Office) have completed significant improvements to the north Richland campus and, as part of the Campus Master Plan, more projects and improvements are on the horizon. Over the course of the last year, PNSO has focused on exiting antiquated facilities and replacing them with modern, energy efficient, adaptable, state of the art facilities.
Early 2019 brought the final stages of the demolition of the Research Technologies Laboratory (RTL); a facility that had been a part of the PNNL campus since the mid 1960’s.
In early 2018, PNNL added Discovery Hall, a 24,000 sq. ft. facility designed to enable on and off site collaboration. It will be used to facilitate scientific insight and discovery by bringing in top researchers and research organizations such as other National Labs, and scientific organizations such as the American Chemical Society, and many more.
With only a partial year of operation under its belt, Discovery Hall has already seen over 20 conferences and workshops bringing thousands of visitors to campus and the Tri-Cities area. This year is shaping up to be even better with large scale efforts such as the NW Cyber Security Symposium and more already on the calendar.
Other announcements this year include two new federal projects, both of which are already well into the congressional approval process (critical decisions).
The first, currently called the Energy Sciences Capability (ESC; subject to change) has a design and construction contract in place and may break ground as early as fall 2019. A $64M contract was awarded to Houston based team of Harvey Cleary Builders and Kirksey Architecture – the same firm who completed construction on PNNL’s Biological Sciences Facility and Computational Sciences Facility (BSF/CSF). This 110,000 - 145,000 sq. ft. facility will be constructed on the corner of Stevens & Horn Rapids road and is expected to house 175 PNNL engineers, researchers, and scientists as well as visiting researchers.
Initial research in the facility will focus on advanced chemical, computing, and material sciences. Research in these areas could lead to more energy efficient chemical processes and materials that advance energy and transportation technologies. With the design and planning phases currently underway, construction is expected to begin in early 2020.
The second project is the acquisition of a new Air-ARM (Atmospheric Radiation Measurement) research plane to replace the recently retired 1960’s G1 aircraft. Much like static facilities, these advanced mobile research facilities must be updated to ensure efficient operations and compatibility with new and emerging capabilities like atmospheric measurement instrumentation. In addition to the new plane, PNNL has secured a lease on a new hanger being constructed by the Port of Pasco.
For the first time, PNNL will have the ability to store and maintain the Air-ARM equipment (including several drones of various sizes) in a single facility. The previous hanger space, also of 1960’s vintage, required the G1 to be tipped in order to fit into the storage bay and is too small for larger modern aircraft.
Together these two projects demonstrate the Department of Energy’s continued investment in PNNL and the north Richland area. Along with other efforts by organizations with overlapping areas of interest like the Tri-Cities Research District and TRIDEC, the future of north Richland, and its focus on establishing a live, work, play community, looks incredibly bright. We are pleased that PNNL is playing such a significant role in this future and will be in a position to continue to pursue world changing discoveries.