National Institute of Science and Technology Advanced Chemical Sciences Laboratory

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

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Project Description: 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Since its creation as the National Bureau of Standards in 1901, NIST has been the source of measurements and standards on which industry, commerce, scientific institutions and all branches of government depend. The agency was renamed NIST by Congress in 1988. The Austin Company designed, engineered and constructed the Advanced Chemical Sciences Laboratory (ACSL) for NIST on its 232-hectare (580-acre) campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The ACSL serves as the nation’s primary reference lab for chemical, biochemical and chemical engineering measurements, standards and data. It houses two of the five divisions of NIST’s Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory (CSTL), a multifaceted organization that assists nearly every industrial sector of the U.S. economy. The two divisions – Biotechnology and Analytical Chemistry – share the new building with CSTL headquarters. An example of the Biotechnology Division’s work is the development of DNA reference materials used by commercial labs for genetic screening and forensic purposes.

One of the many active research areas in the Analytical Chemistry Division is the certification of standards for clinical applications, such as those for measuring cholesterol levels in blood.

The 200,750 SF facility is used by approximately 200 staff scientists, as well as guest researchers from U.S. industry, academia and foreign laboratories. The building’s leading-edge structural, mechanical and electrical design, along with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, enables them to conduct experiments and analyses that are not possible in other existing facilities.

The ACSL contains a total of 104 individual laboratories on the first three floors. On each floor, the laboratories are centrally located and surrounded by office/support corridors. The remaining upper two floors, penthouse and a utility basement house mechanical and electrical building services.

A unique aspect of the project is that The Austin Company completed 100 percent of the design and engineering at the construction site, in close collaboration with the client. This was accomplished by a dedicated engineering task force comprising Austin’s top specialists in various disciplines.

All design and construction drawings for the project were done in metric measurements in compliance with NIST’s request that international standards be employed. In response to NIST’s need to avoid future technical obsolescence, The Austin Company has engineered flexibility into the ACSL’s building systems and design.

The exterior of the ACSL complements the other buildings on the NIST campus. The ACSL is clad in tan-colored brick, multicolored granite, glazing and gray-toned siding. Since the project was implemented on a design-build basis, The Austin Company was able to begin construction within 30 days after the design and engineering was initiated.

Project Stats: 

Square Footage: 200,750
Austin Services Provided: Design, Engineering, Construction 

Location: 

Gaithersburg, MD

Project Client: 

National Institute of Science and Technology 

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