A highly collaborative, interactive environment awaits the future occupants of the NC Plant Sciences Building – a five-story, $160.2 million building that will allow North Carolina State University to bring together academic, government, and industry researchers to find solutions for some of the most pressing agricultural problems of the day, such as how to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050.
Space in the roughly 184,000-square-foot building is intended for transdisciplinary teams who together will try to solve particular challenges. Because the makeup of these teams was unknown when the facility was programmed and designed, its space program was developed around future scientific projects and capabilities, rather than specific investigators.
Plant Science core functional units, including growth chambers and environmental rooms, are distributed across each research floor, with support spaces providing access to state-of-the-art equipment and staff for help with various research projects. Anchor laboratories for genotyping, spectrometry, transformation/tissue culture, metabolomics, ag-bio engineering, and chemical and soils analysis, serve as a resource for all building occupants, as NC State looks to take advantage of opportunities to share resources and maximize efficiency. A core facility in cellular and molecular imaging on the building's second floor will be a showcase for university researchers spanning across colleges. BL2-P and BL3-P rooftop greenhouses are an important asset for researchers and partners in the NC Plant Sciences Initiative, providing state-of-the-art growing environments with a high degree of environmental controls.
A "neighborhood" concept organizes the office area into zones that provide an array of spaces specific to the needs of different work activities, from large conference space for team meetings to small, enclosed huddle rooms for quiet thinking. With one foot in academia and the other in the world of corporate bio-agriculture, the building must appeal to a diverse range of people who will be using it. Taking a cue from the tech world, shared amenity spaces are developed thematically by floor.
Feature spaces on the building's first floor are intended to be shared by students, visitors to the campus and external partners for training and special events. The importance of community outreach and education to the client is such that program administrators and the design team located these spaces, including a Field Lab and Demonstration Lab, near areas where visitors can gather to await building tours and meetings, including a gallery space and a social hub known as The Hearth. Together, these spaces boost the visibility of NC State agriculture and plant sciences research throughout Raleigh and around the state.