The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's new Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies provides the university with a state-of-the-art location to conduct research and host world-class programs and symposia. The 218,000-sf, $69-million Center offers ample space for about 400 faculty and staff members, as well as graduate students. Research takes place in a next-generation infrastructure with the advanced tools to study bioprocesses on every level, from atomic to systems.
The research facility laboratory uses three laboratory space types: flexible open labs, dedicated support labs, and core laboratory facilities. The core research facilities within the Center include laboratories for molecular biology, analytical biochemistry, microbiology, imaging, histology, tissue and cell culture, proteomics, and scientific computing and visualization. The Center contains an 800 mHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer, and the computing and visualization infrastructure needed to model molecular structures at the atomic level.
To enhance the collaborative exploration of life science and engineering, RPI created four research focal groups around which the building is organized. These groupings, also known as constellations, are biocomputation and bioinformatics, integrated systems biology, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and biocatalysis and metabolic engineering. The location of research space for these constellations varies based on the research being conducted or its association with a specialized research core.
The casework systems used in the Center are separated into three categories. Fixed casework is primarily located in the exterior perimeter of the flexible laboratory spaces, lab support spaces, and at sink peninsula locations. Adaptable height bench assembly casework is located in the flexible laboratory spaces adjacent to the sink peninsulas, which provides a service chase for quick disconnect connections to the adaptable benches. The third casework system is a rolling adaptable bench assembly whose services are provided by a custom fabricated overhead service carrier with quick disconnects outlets. The movable benches are located under these service carriers. This system provides the maximum flexibility for the users due to its easy adaptability into multiple configurations.
A linear four-story atrium—the main circulation area of the building—allows each office, meeting, and laboratory space to have controlled daylighting and views. Abundant fresh air, low-polluting materials, advanced laboratory controls, and heat recovery create a healthy, energy-efficient indoor environment. Several impromptu breakout spaces are located around the atrium and contain comfortable chairs, side tables, power access, and white boards. Two small enclosed breakout spaces are located in the laboratory wing and facilitate small group collaboration with tables and chairs, pin-up space, white boards, and Internet access. Three formal meeting spaces, known as Oxbridge rooms, contain fully automated AV capabilities and conference tables and chairs.
The Center also has two large gathering spaces: a 150-seat auditorium and the Bruggeman Conference Center. The auditorium and conference center contain full-function audio/video capabilities including rear-screen projection, a programmable audio sound system, and cameras for distance learning and video conferencing. Equipment in the auditorium can be controlled remotely via a color touch-screen wireless system. A control booth services the equipment needs of the conference center. The 60-seat conference center is designed to be a multiuse, flexible meeting space with pre-function/overflow space and a main conference center.
The Center has been a source of knowledge and education long before the first researcher moved in. Each semester during the 30-month construction process, 12 students--six architects and six civil engineers--enrolled in a course to learn the entire process of building a research facility. After an initial construction safety class taught by the builder, the lead architect based each semester's curriculum on what was happening at the time, such as concrete pouring and steel framing or installation of the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.