EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi, UAE | 2014

15,000 SM | 160,000 SF

ARCHITECT: RAFAEL VINOLY ARCHITECTS

Key Personnel: Rafael Vinoly, Jay Bargmann, Christian Callaghan, Teal Usher, P.L Sorzano.  

P.L Sorzano, under the design leadership of Rafael Vinoly managed and coordinated the technical design, documentation and construction of the building from design development to final delivery.

The Experimental Research Building is a state of the art building that will house the most advanced Research Facilities in the region when opens in 2014. When completed, it will house multiple Flexible Research Laboratories, Organic Chemistry Laboratories, a Specialist Research Laboratory in addition to numerous core support shops and spaces, enabling the Institute to lead different research fronts simultaneously.

The building also has multiple offices for Faculty and Researchers as well as conference rooms, and open work areas for students. The  laboratory casework is designed to accommodate a variety of functions associated with teaching and research in biology, physics, engineering, chemistry, mathematics and computational science. The modular casework system is built up of a kit of parts that enables research and instructional laboratories to be fit-out similarly.

Lab casework, benches and shelving are flexible in location and height, and provided with utilities as well as integrated task and ambient lighting. The principle structure of the lab casework is the Vertical Service Module (VSM) which is a highly engineered aluminum extrusion of minimalist design. Lab benches, sinks, pedestal storage cabinets and shelving are cantilevered off the VSM. The VSM is bolted to directly to the structural slab at modular intervals on a 600mm x 600mm grid, and penetrates the raised access flooring. Following the VSM, the casework is modular with floor and ceiling assemblies providing flexibility without structural modifications. The cantilevered system bolted to the structural slab achieves the requiredwork surface vibration criteria of 50 mircometers / second at 75 footfalls per minute.

Laboratory services including water, lab gases, power and data are distributed below the raised access floor and up through the VSM bringing lab services to the benches. Utility ports are integrated above and below the work surfaces for power and data. Color coded valves are provided at regular intervals above the work surface and accessible from each work station for vacuum, compressed air, CO2 and nitrogen. The lab gas infrastructure and VSM can accommodate additional gases to allow for the removal and replacement of gases. Water and drainage are provided to sinks in wet areas of the labs through the raised access floor. Laboratory services are distributed from below the floor in a modular array of wet (water and gases) and dry (power and data) zones such that the final location of services is flexible and reconfigurable without structural modification.

The laboratory bench work surfaces are grey epoxy resin and are adjustable in height and fully removable without affecting distribution of services. Pedestal storage cabinets are suspended beneath all work surfaces and are removable and relocatable. Storage cabinets and pedestal units are constructed of wood veneer with hard wood edging. Three shelving units are provided above all work surfaces and are adjustable in height and fully removable. Lighting is composed of different “layers” which can be controlled independently of one another. LED Task lights are a cordless plug-in assembly connected directly to the VSM producing 300-500 lux on horizontal surfaces; they can be individually controlled and are adjustable and fully removable. Indirect fluorescent uplights terminate the bench assembly spanning between VSMs and aligning with the headers of the Wet Support modules to provide a continuous transom across the lab at 2400mm; the Wet Support modules continue to the ceiling at 3400mm. The uplights are on the BSM and controlled with the ceilings lights from a touch pad in each laboratory.  Ambient and task lighting combine to produce 800 lux at lab benches, with a 3:1 uniformity ratio across the work surface.

Panelite modular wall panels span between VSMs forming low partitions between benches and full height partitions at Wet Support Modules in the Research Laboratory and Capstone Laboratory. Panelite is an innovative, resource-efficient translucent honeycomb material with a compelling aesthetic that offers low embodied energy, natural daylighting and structural efficiency. Detailing of the VSM has been designed to receive the Panelite on a spring loaded system, enabling panels to be installed and removed without adjustment to the VSM.

This custom modular laboratory casework system on raised access flooring offers NYUAD unprecedented flexibility and efficiency in laboratory design. The aluminum VSM with cantilevered bench and shelving combines structural integrity with lightness of material for ease of relocation. Seamless detailing and construction achieved with aluminum and Panelite presents a modern aesthetic stripped of extraneous elements, with each part designed and assembled to support the needs of the individual researcher