Carl Icahn Laboratory
The atrium has clear uninterrupted panoramic views into the playing field through a lattice-like screen of louvers.
Following a revised version of a May 1999 Princeton Master Plan proposal, the new facility is located on the South Campus of Princeton University. The Master Plan identifies a triangular site, south of the Lewis-Thomas Laboratory along the northeast edge of a planned ellipse. In final form, the ellipse will define the southern edge of the campus expansion while creating a green space for recreational activity.
A principal goal of the Genomics Institute is to promote the intellectual cross pollination between the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, physic, computer science and theory. Beyond the specific program needs of individual labs, the building's design was determined by the paramount need for flexibility as research and researchers change with the pace of Genomic science.
Using the triangular site to its best advantage Viñoly designed two perpendicular rectangular building blocks on the northern and eastern edges of the triangular site, and a curved glass facade, enclosing a two-story atrium space, positioned due south. By making the southern facade transparent the atrium space becomes an extension of the exterior.
Thirty-one aluminum louvers, standing 40-feet tall, provide sun screening outside the glass facade. The exterior louver system tracks the sun's movement throughout the year, taking full advantage of the building's southern exposure.
Because of the additional sun shading provided by the louver system, heat gain is lessened in the atrium dramatically reducing the total cooling load on the building HVAC system. The effectiveness of the solar shading system made it feasible to use clear glazing, albeit low-e glass for the curtain wall.
The custom designed system of thirty-one individual motors and hydraulics jacks, which drive the movement, can be repaired or replaced by University engineers with standard available parts.
The soaring atrium space contains a small auditorium below a circular lounge area, various seating areas and a coffee shop. A casual meeting room in a Frank Gehry sculpture, originally planned for the Peter Lewis house, invites scientists to interact and exchange ideas. The changing light throughout the day, and the shadows created by the the lattice-like screen of louvers, makes the atrium a cheerful and inviting space.
In addition to the exterior louver design, to shade the atrium, other daylighting devices were used to enhance and tie together the rest of the program. In the two large cantilevered conference rooms, a Viñoly signature design, a combination of unusually tall clerestories and automated screening devices maximize the daylighting appropriate for a room of that function.
The specialized laboratories, that occupy two levels of the buildings, are made up entirely of demountable systems. These systems consists of modular lab bench and cantilever casework systems as well as modular partitions. Utilizing these systems allows whole labs to be taken apart systematically and reconfigured to fit the needs of the next research project with significantly less labor, time and disruption, than conventional construction. The mechanical infrastructure that feeds the two lab blocks is located on top of the building.
The vivarium and the mechanical systems are located in the basement where an underground tunnel connect the next door Lewis/Thomas Laboratory Building to the Genomics Building. Several classrooms will be added at the basement level.
Facts about Carl Icahn Laboratory
Total Square Footage
Total Square Footage of Labs 32,000 ft2
Total Square Footage of Vivarium 10,500ft2
Rafael Viñoly Architects
MEP Engineer, Lighting, Acoustic and Security Consultant:
Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates
GPR Planners Collaborative, Inc.
Dewhurst, Macfarlane & Partners, Inc.
Acoustical/Vibration Control Consultant:
Barr & Barr, Inc.
Quennell Rothschild & Partners, LLP
Robert Schwartz & Associates
Van Note-Harvey Associates, PC
Louver Design Engineer:
Last updated: December 19, 2013