U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - The Molecular Foundry
The emergence of modern nanotechnology in the late 20th century held the promise of advances and applications across a broad spectrum of sciences. It prompted the U.S. Department of Energy to establish user facilities that would bring those diverse fields together, where researchers in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biology, physics and computational theory could share specialized equipment to explore the linkages possible when working at the same nanoscale. The Molecular Foundry is one of the first of these types of facilities in the world, a collaborative, multidisciplinary building focused on nanoscience integration.
Programming informed conceptual design for the building, resulting in a vertically oriented structure with six levels. Each level provides highly specialized laboratories serving the sophisticated needs of each different research concentration, such as high clean space requirements or chemical vapor deposition.
The Molecular Foundry’s bold modernist design responds to its steep hillside site. A 50-foot cantilever reaches out over the slope, housing offices with dramatic views of Berkeley and San Francisco Bay. Clad in aluminum, concrete and glass, it creates a simple yet striking form, a highly functional building that has fostered many breakthroughs in its first decade and has proven capable of achieving many more.
The Molecular Foundry is also a pioneer in sustainability. By analyzing performance of equipment in other Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory facilities, the team was able to right-size its equipment beyond traditional specifications, significantly reducing energy consumption and saving front end costs by over $2 million. The size of the electrical system was reduced by 38% and the HVAC system was reduced by approximately 33%. Air handlers were reduced from a total of 180,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) to a total of 120,000 cfm. Along with other measures such as clean construction, helped the facility earn LEED Gold certification just a few years after the program was established.