Modular Building Institute

Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab

(Click an image below to see enlargement)
Main Category:
Modular Building Design
NRB Modular Solutions
Triumph Modular
Allston, MA
Building Use:
Life Sciences Wet Laboratory
Gross Size of Project:
15000 Square Feet
Days to complete:

Award Criteria

  1. Architectural Excellence
    The Harvard University Pagliuca Life Lab, designed by Shepley Bulfinch, is a state-of-the art facility offering students, faculty and alumni the vital resources needed for life science related ventures. The upper level wet lab areas have 30 lab benches, tissue culture rooms, freezer, fume hoods and cold room. Below, the beautifully appointed space is a flexible open concept, designed to nurture teamwork, including write-up lab areas, lounge spaces, meeting rooms, a walk-through kitchen and even a 21st century version of a “phone booth” for quiet conversations. The extensive use of glazed partition walls on both floors, with the large ornamental staircase space and two story mural further fosters team connectivity both physically and visually. Inside, the walls are stunningly bold, floors are laminate, tile and carpet and ceilings are a wood slat system or exposed cable trays, ductwork and pipe. Outside is a combination of architectural aluminum panels and unique cement board siding.
  2. Technical Innovation & Sustainability
    The steel building is non-combustible construction with pre-poured concrete floors. Achieving the remarkable design characteristics and configuration for this two-story building presented some challenges. The upper wet lab area with its heavy equipment cantilever approx. 12’ over the fully glazed entrance below to provide a covered, lighted patio area. This, along with the floor to ceiling windows wrapping around the corner of the building required some careful consideration for structural design and module layout. All interior floor to ceiling glass partitions on the upper and lower floors were preinstalled at the plant prior to shipping and due to the structural design, could travel without movement. The building was constructed inside the plant in a static form with the modules joined together vertically and horizontally to allow NRB to pre-install and pre-test systems and to ensure precision fit and finish to minimize the on-site time for final installation by the Contractor.
  3. Cost Effectiveness
    The building envelope design features continuous insulation on the roof and walls and the crawlspace below is conditioned. Windows that provide the desired daylighting and views, were insulated glass in thermally broken aluminum frames and feature a Solar ban coating. Interior light fixtures were LED type for reduced energy consumption. One of the most critical factors on this project however, was to have the Life Lab built in less time as the life science venture teams were already lining up to prequalify, and those selected would be ready to take their seats at the lab benches as soon as it was up and running. From start to finish, the Life Lab was ready to go in just 7 months, much less time than if it had been conventionally built. Harvard was also looking to have the building completed to the highest possible degree prior to shipping so they could significantly reduce the amount of on-site time, cost and disruptive activity to the surrounding campus and community.
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