NanoSystems Institute (CNSI)
The site UCLA selected for its California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), a narrow, steep lot adjacent to a parking structure on its dense South Campus, tendered a number of physical challenges.
Likewise, nanotechnology, a multidisciplinary field addressing
the control of matter on a molecular level, presented a unique set
of programmatic hurdles, including highly specific laboratory
Initially considered an obstacle, the parking structure turned
into a design impetus. Constructing three floors over part of the
parking facility maximized the building's potential and opened new
possibilities for laboratories and common areas. Brick-paneled
cores touch down at street level lending rhythm, scale, and a sense
of accessibility to this large building.
The result was a partially below-grade, seven-story building
with a central courtyard intersected by suspended bridges and
stairs, and a main entrance facing the other structures on the
Court of Sciences.
The open-air entrance lobby and courtyard inspire interdisciplinary collegiality, directly engaging the adjacent pedestrian zones. The lobby connects to research floors and the adjacent parking structure through the zigzag network of bridges, facilitating an atmosphere of communication more commonly seen in compact buildings.
Both inside and outside, the CNSI establishes a distinctive user environment: the crisscrossed center courtyard enlivens the UCLA campus' predominant form of structure-with-center-atrium, workstations are personally controlled through low-level ambient and task lighting, and acoustic buffer areas create interior quiet zones.
For a complex and small site, the CNSI creates a large variety of pedestrian spaces, using innovative structural solutions - both within and around the building.
This is a building that houses a transformational field of new technologies. While respecting the strong character of the campus, the design offers the flexibility and openness that reflects the way in which this work is performed: large undetermined technical spaces with unexpected modes of circulation that encourage random interactivity.
Facts about NanoSystems Institute (CNSI)
Rafael Viñoly Architects
Nabih Youssef & Associates
Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates
GPR Planners Collaborative Inc.
Katherine Spitz Associates
Last updated: December 17, 2012
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