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Vol. LXIV, No. 6
March 16, 2012
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From Lab to Modern Office
Bldg. 3 Nears Completion—New Life for NIH Landmark

Originally built by the George Fuller Co. of Bethesda in 1938, Bldg. 3, now in the last stages of renovation, is an original member of the NIH historic core and a fine example of Georgian revival architecture. Known by its official and somewhat generic name, the “Public Health Methods and Animal Bldg.,” Bldg. 3 is strategically located next to Bldgs. 1 and 2, near Bldg. 31 and within walking distance to the Clinical Center, the Metro station and the main entrance to campus.

The building was a result of a historic private sector land gift in 1935 and was originally constructed as a laboratory, office and animal-breeding building. The original layout of the building included a simple rectangle with a central corridor with laboratories, offices and shared laboratory support spaces on either side. The interior layout was designed to be flexible to accommodate changing equipment and research functions.

Located in the historic core of campus, Bldg. 3 (above) provides 6 levels on 49,200 square feet and is an example of the red brick Georgian style of architecture. Below, utility upgrades required that several new services be provided from the street into the building.

Located in the historic core of campus, Bldg. 3 (above) provides 6 levels on 49,200 square feet and is an example of the red brick Georgian style of architecture. Below, utility upgrades required that several new services be provided from the street into the building.

Despite ongoing upgrades to building systems, the restrictive floor-to-floor height limited upgrade options. Therefore the building was deemed unacceptable to function as an animal facility and was decommissioned in 2002. At the time, plans involved bringing the building back to life as office space, but funding constraints eventually shelved the idea.

With funds received in 2009 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the plans were dusted off and subsequently updated to provide a design that would meet current NIH requirements for a modern office facility. But the use of ARRA funds required strict reporting and an aggressive time frame.

“This complex project not only includes a compressed time frame, but also involves complicated utility, security and other IT upgrades, all while maintaining the historic character of the building,” said Dexroy Chism, the lead Office of Research Facilities project officer on the renovation.

The renovation also strives for LEED certification, defined by the U.S. Green Buildings Council as leadership in energy and environmental design. LEED certification indicates sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

ORF’s goal is to reduce the building’s energy consumption by 20 percent compared to similar facilities. Strategies include use of energy-efficient lighting systems, day lighting controls and high-performance HVAC systems. Occupant-controlled lighting will be provided for more than 50 percent of the regularly occupied spaces. Occupancy sensors, accessible manual lighting controls and glare control will be provided to the maximum extent feasible.  

It is also ORF’s goal to reduce water consumption by 20 percent compared to the water use baseline calculated for a building of this size and kind. Strategies to attain the water conservation goals include specialized faucets and fixtures, high-efficiency and dual-flush water closets and low-flow urinals.

Other achievements include adding a new bike rack on the northwest corner of the site and recycling a high percentage of construction waste.

“The goal of this project is to keep the original design of the building infrastructure, walls and common area in place but provide for the purchase of new furniture systems for installation into the existing building layout,” said Chism. These requirements generated challenges as the space plan developed in 2001 was not intended for the institutes currently set to occupy the building. Also, technology and security requirements changed since the original design.

Bldg. 3 Nears Completion—New Life for NIH Landmark

In order to maintain the historic appearance, the building’s original windows were removed, stripped of lead paint and completely refurbished with high-efficiency, blast-resistant double glazing while the building façade was cleaned and pointed up. The slate roof was meticulously removed, repaired and reinstalled to maintain the historic feel. Trees and plantings on the site will be restored to match the original landscaping.

The ICs that have committed to occupy the building include NIAID, NHLBI, NIDDK, NCI, NINR and NIMHD. The completion of Bldg. 3 is also closely linked to the renovation of the F wing of Bldg. 10. Four institutes have staff moving into Bldg. 3 to facilitate ongoing renovations of the F wing.

As the project nears completion, the final coats of paint are applied, the mechanical and electrical systems are tested, the furniture is installed and the ICs move in, it is inspiring, said Chism, to see an iconic part of NIH history come back to life. NIHRecord Icon


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