The Molecular Foundry, owned by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is a state-of-the art user laboratory for nanoscale materials research. The facility is one of five U.S. Department of Energy Nanoscale Science Research Centers, and the only one on the west coast.
The building is a simple rectangular form with the long axis oriented from east to west. The primary mass of the building emerges from a slopping hillside between two adjacent buildings, taking advantage of views of San Francisco Bay. The building includes offices, interaction areas, and laboratories. Outdoor spaces include terraces on the north and south of the building.
The building is located on a previously disturbed site accessible by public transportation. The project team minimized site disturbance during construction and selected drought-tolerant plantings and an efficient irrigation system. Other water-saving features include waterless urinals, low-flow faucets and showerheads, a closed-loop laboratory-equipment process cooling water system, and an electromagnetic water-treatment system on the cooling tower.
The building was anticipated to use 35% less energy than a comparable building designed in minimal compliance with ASHRAE Standard 90.1. Energy-efficient features include a high-performance building envelope, low-emissivity glazing, extensive daylighting, efficient electric lighting, variable-air-volume systems, nighttime setbacks for mechanical and electrical systems, occupancy-based controls, and operable windows in some areas.
The project team preferred durable, low-maintenance, and regionally sourced materials as well as those with renewable content, recycled content, and low chemical emissions. In addition, sustainably harvested wood was used in much of the building. The team also minimized the use of materials and designed the spaces to be easily adaptable to evolving needs.
The building's narrow footprint and southern orientation, combined with extensive glazing, interior glazed partitions, and open layouts, allow for daylight and views in much of the building. Solar, topographic, and visual orientation played a central role in determining the arrangement of the building's program.