HDR's CalTech Meister Laboratory Renovation Wins Best Tenant Improvement Award

(February 27, 2012)—The Los Angeles Business Journal has awarded the HDR-designed California Institute of Technology, Beckman Behavioral Biology Building, Markus Meister Laboratory Renovation in Pasadena, Best Tenant Improvement Project. The 2013 award recognizes the biggest, best and most notable commercial real estate projects of 2012, and the architects, developers, and general contractors of these projects. 

Designed to attract new researchers, including its namesake, world-class researcher, Professor Meister, the renovated 6,000 square-foot laboratory supports Meister's notable research in understanding circuits of nerve cells in the brain and was custom designed to his needs. 

"The space not only stimulates individuals to perform cutting edge research, but also encourages them to interact with others, "says Diane Hamlin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, HDR Project Manager. And, as she explains, "The concept for this inspiring lab was to develop a space that exceeded the perception of a traditional lab environment. HDR's design introduced color, light and transparency into an existing setting where researchers were used to sterile white walls in disconnected and non-collaborative spaces. We modernized a series of dark segmented labs into a vibrant, flexible, and open suite."

With the primary experiments performed in dark rooms with all external light eliminated, it was important to funnel light into the remaining areas to counteract the effects of the time spent working in the dark. Abundant natural light, along with a dramatic and color-changing LED luminous wall that shines through the glass walls of the main lab entrance, defines the space and wraps the lab to separate the office area from the research space.

The design team utilized lean planning principles, working closely with the owner and contactor throughout the process. Target value design allowed the project to be designed to the budget, eliminating the typical lengthy value engineering process.  

Completed on an aggressive eight-month schedule and raising the bar for future laboratory renovations, the Meister Lab serves as a shining example of what can be achieved with a shared vision and an inspired design team.