From Left: KPF Principals Jorge Mendoza and Jill Lerner; CUIMC Vice President Patrick Burke; KPF Principal Hana Kassem; and Dean Katrina Armstrong. Photo courtesy of Columbia University.

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Columbia University Breaks Ground on KPF-Designed, All-Electric Biomedical Research Facility in New York City

The new biomedical research building will be the first building of its kind to burn no fossil fuels on site and will increase the University’s research capacity while reducing energy consumption.

On May 30, 2024, KPF joined leaders of Columbia University, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S), and local dignitaries to break ground on a new eight-story biomedical research facility in Manhattan. When complete, the KPF-designed project will house biomedical research and lab facilities as well as symposium and community engagement spaces; it will also connect to the Columbia University School of Nursing and Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, creating a unified academic and research facility.

In remarks before the ceremony, Minouche Shafik, President of Columbia University, said, “This building’s world-class research facilities will enable our scientists to generate new knowledge that will take humanity forward with good health.”

Katrina Armstrong, Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences at Columbia University remarked, “Our new biomedical research building is an integral part of our vision for the future of science at VP&S—and of a sustainable model for science that can set a standard for New York City and for our country.”

Roy Vagelos, Chair of the VP&S Board of Advisors added, “This is going to be a beautiful building that is going to house some of the best scientists in the world.”

The building is designed to use significantly less energy than similar lab buildings and will outperform emission limits set by New York City’s Local Law 97 and support Columbia University’s Plan 2030 greenhouse gas reduction goals. Heating and cooling are handled by electric air source heat pumps (ASHPs), eliminating fossil fuel use and allowing for energy recovery between the heating and cooling fluids to provide periods of free tempering during the year.

KPF developed an innovative, integrated design process to address the unique challenges of developing a first-of-its-kind electric research laboratory in New York City. Because laboratories have greater ventilation requirements than other building typologies, they require more robust mechanical systems, which typically result in increased energy usage. Working with Columbia University to meet budget and schedule, and sustainability consultant Atelier Ten, the project team introduced a new scope: a pre-design sustainability and energy charrette, designed to evaluate alternative building options and validate project goals. It involved reviewing the existing facilities, comprehensive energy modeling, and benchmarking against local regulations and peer institutions to set sustainability criteria that shaped every subsequent phase. Read more from Columbia University here.