The new Measurement Sciences Laboratory (MSL) at the NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) is the third phase in the multi-year New Town Plan at the Center, a master planning effort aimed at consolidating and modernizing existing aging facilities on the sprawling campus into a smaller, state of the art, core campus environment. Unlike the first two buildings in the new masterplan, the Headquarters Building (primarily comprised of executive office spaces - completed in 2011) and the Integrated Engineering Services Building (the Center’s conference, dining, and training facility completed in 2016), this third building most closely represents the core mission and culture at Langley – Science and Research.
The Building Program consists of six typical laboratory types: Laser / Calibration / Sensor, Chemistry, Electronics,Prototyping and Clean Rooms. Although the building will house all of these functions, the majority of the spaces will be Laser / Calibration / Sensor laboratories, designed for precision measuring and sensing. Approximately 244 people will occupy this building.
The MSL building concept is informed by significant aspects of the NASA mission and respectful of the New Town buildings and facilities. An integrated approach to design, innovative technologies, and an understanding of the campus context are rooted in the proposed design. In alignment with NASA’s mission and its approach to research and discovery, the will demonstrates rigor, attention to detail, craft, and precision and is an honest expression of its use. In character, the building will pay homage to the legacy of NASA research and be a contemporary, contextual response that explores the language of research on the campus.The concept honors and enhances these four project drivers summarized as follows:
Interior Workplace Environment
Functionality is the primary measure of quality in the technical spaces. Labs must meet specific temperature, humidity, and infrastructure requirements, be serviceable and safe. Quality interior environment promotes a healthy workplace. Control of daylight is achieved appropriate to use. It is extremely limited and highly controlled in the labs. In office areas on the other hand, access to daylight and views to the outside are plentiful and an exterior envelope designed in response to solar orientation controls direct sunlight/glare.
The labs are adaptable to accommodate changing missions, emerging technologies and evolving stages of research from preliminary investigations to late stage implementation. The linear massing allows the maximum number of adjacent lab modules to accommodate such desired flexibility in the lab spaces. Diverse working styles are achievable within the office spaces allowing for a wide range of workplace strategies from open office to bench, to enclosed offices and teaming spaces. Collaborative spaces and well positioned amenities (café, casual stairs, team areas, etc.) and required circulation elements create opportunities for informal interaction and are crucial to an environment of discovery and integrated scientific research.
An integrated whole building approach to design of the MSL will deliver maximum environmental and institutional sustainability. Engaging all disciplines in the conceptual exploration including structural, MEP, laboratory experts, interior design and landscape design is key to this approach. The building is sited to value NASA’s real estate investment, to exploit the site configuration and enhance adjacencies on the campus. Additionally it will activate the pedestrian realm and respect the natural setting and resources on the site including views, sunlight, and shade.
Building Image and Identity
The building’s character and expression are aligned with the vocabulary and legacy of NASA’s cutting edge international research, science, and engineering. The MSL is an important tool for attraction, recruitment and retention of the best and brightest talents, as well as a showplace to help secure partnerships, new work, and funding. Conceptually it is an identifiable place and destination on the campus, and a hub for interaction.
A GSA Design Excellence Commission awarded to Allison G. Williams FAIA
while Vice President and Director of Design with AECOM
Construction Photos, Courtesy of Avenere Cladding LLC