Rebirth for an Aging Laboratory
An outdated facility reimagined as a high performance, flexible, bright new lab

High Performance Rebirth
In contrast to the existing conditions, the Kimball Hall Renovation created an open flexible suite of visually connected spaces to accommodate a range of research needs, ranging from robotics research to bioengineering. The plan’s organization reflects three layers: open lab space, a support zone and an office area for faculty and students. 

Robotics

Equipment Centric

Bioengineering

   1  Open Lab                            5  Conference / Kitchen
   2  Support                               6  Mechanical 
   3  Student desk area               7  Entry
   4  Office 

Materials development and robotics open laboratory arrangement

Brightness
The bright daylit spaces within Kimball Hall are punctuated by bold accent colors to heighten a radical transformation of one of Cornell University College of Engineering’s original 1950s buildings.

CornellKimball_LP_06

SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIES

68%
reduction in energy use as compared to a typical biology or engineering lab

94%
of regularly occupied spaces have access to outside views

20%
reduction in fixture water usage

LEED GOLD

New high performance curtainwall with integrated sunshades

Cornell University
Kimball Hall Renovation

LOCATION
Ithaca, NY / United States

COMPLETED
2015

TOTAL SQUARE FOOTAGE
19,380 GSF

PROGRAM COMPONENTS
Research Labs, Private Offices

LEED STATUS
LEED Gold

To meet next-generation goals of interdisciplinary research, the School of Engineering desperately needed new wet bench laboratory space. Following the publication of the College’s master plan, Cornell initiated the Kimball Hall Renovation as the prototype project demonstrating the adaptive potential of the school’s existing 1960s-era lab buildings.

Challenge
Originally built with an open plan in 1952, over time Kimball Hall had been compartmentalized into a series of small, isolated rooms, largely devoid of natural light. This layout discouraged interaction between faculty, students and programs and failed to accommodate new occupants and research types. In addition, the building had received no significant upgrades since its initial construction. It lacked the central mechanical systems to support laboratory densification, and some existing labs were even missing the infrastructure to support their immediate research needs.

Solution
For the renovation, our design team focused on creating an open, flexible suite of visually connected spaces to accommodate a wide range of disciplinary needs. The design allows for collaboration between the various groups and provides opportunities for new scientific adjacencies and relationships within the engineering departments. The renovation interweaves a series of layers (low-energy office workspaces, a high-intensity support zone and a flexible open research lab) to create an integrated research neighborhood. Each layer responds to a specific design criteria that tunes its capability and minimizes energy usage.

The project involved gut renovating the building’s upper two floors while the existing first-floor lab and clean room remained operational. Leveraging the building’s long structural spans, the open lab features a simple, flexible infrastructure system that can accommodate a range of uses. New mechanical infrastructure, housed on the roof above the third floor and in the penthouse, serves the renovated space.

Daylight floods the building’s interiors, streaming through the enlarged glazed curtainwall. Sliding glass doors and slot windows in the support zone continue the notions of transparency and openness. A predominantly white palette amplifies the overall sense of brightness, and high-contrast accent walls and bold materials introduce a playful energy to the space.

Photography: © Warren Jagger                           

KEY TEAM MEMBERS
J. Ian Adamson, AIA, LEED Green Assoc.
Principal-in-Charge

Jeffrey H. DeGregorio, AIA, LEED AP
Project Manager / Architect