Stonehill & Taylor (New York) completed a 10,950-square-foot gut renovation of the Lawrence G. Kolb Research Building’s 3rd floor into a new laboratory for the Division of Molecular Therapeutics of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Previously, Kolb 3 had been subdivided into smaller, enclosed labs; these labs were relocated prior to the start of construction.

The new laboratory is designed to consolidate the Division of Molecular Therapeutics from the outdated and fragmented facilities within the nearby Columbia Physicians & Surgeons Building.  The design is based on a flexible modular design model to satisfy the need for increased collaboration between researchers and allow them to easily transition between research projects within the facility.

The wood-paneled and exposed-brick walls of the elevator lobby are designed to welcome both researchers and visitors. The wall art displayed in the public areas feature microscopic imagery of fruit flies from the scientists’ own research. These features serve as branding for the lab, while reminding staff and visitors of the intrinsic beauty of the field.

The design aims to promote opportunities for planned and spontaneous conversations and collaborations between researchers. A flexible conference area, pantry, and classroom can be easily partitioned, allowing for a variety of uses and the ability to accommodate fluctuating group sizes. The hallways are lined with flexible leather stools, and a marker board cladding allows scientists to informally gather, discuss, and exchange ideas.

In order for researchers to move easily between projects, the facility must allow for these shifts. Kolb caters to this need, as the benches are flexible and not fixed, with mobile cabinets, height-adjustable tops, and “umbilical” utility connections at ceiling; the lab benches have quick connects for easy reconfiguration; the electrophysiology suite has framing in place, providing the ability to divide the space with minimal disruption; and the storage room can be reconfigured into a laboratory room via a lab bench module. Vital to the design are the researchers’ individual work/ touchdown stations. They overlook views of the Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, and Upper Manhattan in an open layout.

Henry Meltzer is executive vice president and principal of Stonehill & Taylor.