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The Science Behind Plant Center

What’s in a building? Well, some 75 IFMA members and their guests heard and saw first-hand how a building can transform the work environment.

That was the focus of the Aug. 9 presentation on and tour of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Laurel Harrington, Ryan Kopp and Emily Wray, architects with Christner Inc., and Jeff Smith, client executive with IMEG, discussed how the design of the landscaping, buildings and labs shape and transform the work environment at the bioscience and agricultural research center.

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. The center’s expansion recently earned the chapter’s Facility of the Year Award. The expansion further enables world-class research in plant biology, bioenergy and sustainable agriculture with lab, office, conference and community space for 100 new scientists.

The facility’s innovative features include Human Factor Design and Environmental Stewardship.

During the presentation and tour, attendees learned more and saw how it provides flexible, efficient and transparent research space. The expansion includes large, highly efficient open lab “neighborhoods” that share support lab facilities and are directly connected to write-up space. Ground floor labs put science on display.

Visual connectivity between the open labs and write-up areas and at enclosed offices and conference rooms is maximized with glass partitions. Shared support facilities and open labs increase interaction. A new atrium acts as a social center to the whole community and brings together researchers from both the new and existing labs for meals, coffee and informal meetings.

Additionally, the project targets LEED Gold certification. Environmental strategies include run-around coil heat recovery loop, smart lab exhaust, indigenous prairie and landscaping, green roofs, daylighting and a high-performance envelope with integrated solar shading.

Special thanks to David Kehm of Christner for coordinating the program and to his company for sponsoring the evening. We also appreciate the hospitality provided by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, for a spectacular tour of this impressive facility.