HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus

by | 31. Jul 2012

Feature | Industrial

Photo courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PC


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), located in Ashburn, Virginia along the Potomac River, will officially open the doors of its first research campus, the Janelia Farm Research Campus, on October 5, 2006.

The first of its kind, the Janelia Farm Research Complex transforms accepted patterns of scientific research and typical designs for lab buildings.


Photo: © 2006 Paul Fetters for HHMI


The centerpiece is a 1,000 feet long laboratory building, called the “Landscape Building,” which if stood on end, would equal the size of an 85-story building. Its length and massiveness is disguised by its elongated, gently undulating design that conforms to the site’s existing topography.


Photo: © 2006 Paul Fetters for HHMI



Photo: © 2006 Paul Fetters for HHMI


Built into the gentle slope in the form of three descending planted terraces, the Landscape Building becomes an indistinguishable part of the sloping meadow below. If one stands behind it, one has a clear, unobstructed view across the Potomac River into the verdant Maryland countryside.


Photo: © Jeff Goldberg/Esto



Photo: © Jeff Goldberg/Esto


A north-facing glazed corridor runs the length of the building on each floor, providing circulation, dividing the offices and labs, and allowing light to penetrate inside. All floors offer easy connections between the interior and the site.


Photo: © Jeff Goldberg/Esto


The ribbons are bisected by two atria, each anchored by a grand cantilevered staircase that accesses all three levels and provides egress to the meadow. The atria are designed to encourage random encounters among the scientists. Generously sized landings provide inviting space for interaction.


Photo: © Jeff Goldberg/Esto


Horizontally, the building has a rational layout divided into three sinuous ribbons. To the back, tucked into the hillside, is the mechanical corridor, where all of the services terminate. The middle ribbon is reserved for laboratories and support spaces. The front includes office and meeting spaces that alternate with outdoor terraces and courtyards.

Beneath these terraces, the labs, support areas, offices, meeting rooms, and communal spaces are arranged in a three-level stack that is horizontally offset to follow the slope of the site. On the lowest level, overlooking the pond, is the main entrance hall, including large areas for social functions, dining areas, and meeting rooms. The next level, which is above and to the south, contains a long open plan of lab benches, support spaces, and office clusters.


Model photo courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PC



Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PCSite Plan


Sketch courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PC




Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PCLandscape Building Plan



Drawing courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects PCLandscape Building Section



CITY Ashburn, Virginia
SIZE 581,000 gross ft2
ARCHITECT Rafael Viñoly
Jay Bargmann
Charles Clements
Sami Basuhail
Charles Blomberg
David Hodge
Tsune Tsuda
George Salinas
Roberto Alfie