By mid-July 2010 the architectural firm of Woods Bagot was selected to perform the feasibility study and develop the concept document for the home of the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (NJIFNH) at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS). The Visioning and Concept Design Study Kick-Off/Mobilization meeting for the project was held on July 28th, 2010 with members from Woods Bagot, RU Architect Offices, RU Facilities Planning and Development Office, SEBS Dean's Office and the NJIFNH Administrative Team. This meeting detailed a very aggressive schedule of 12 weeks to complete the building feasibility study and concept document. Some pivotal topics covered in this meeting include:
- Project Plan and Schedule of Work
- Visioning Workshop
- Project Programmatic Planning
- Campus Planning
In the middle of August 2010 a Visioning Workshop was held to capture the unique mission of the NJIFNH which incorporates the translational research focus of the institute including the cross disciplinary nature of the research itself. The new building is being designed with the collective input of researchers, educators, students and members of the broader community. Through interactive exercises facilitated by Woods Bagot the planning committee distilled the vision for the Institute’s building design by gathering the program objectives of key stakeholders. With over 25 individuals invited from across the university to participate in the workshop it provided a unique opportunity for individuals to share their thoughts and opinions, and to provide insightful feedback on the Institute’s vision.
At the beginning of September 2010 a follow up meeting was held to present the results of the Visioning Workshop to the original invitees. At this presentation the building vision was further defined by the participants engaging in a lively dialogue with the architects and providing insightful comments on the presented results.
The next step in the process was to provide Woods Bagot with concrete programmatic insight regarding the building design. To this end focus groups were invited to provide their expertise relating to wet labs, dry labs, core labs, clinical facilities, human performance facilities, culinology lab, healthy eating courtyards, nutritional preschool, and conference room space. Woods Bagot and the building core team also had a number of one-on-one interviews with individuals from different areas of the university to gather additional programmatic information. In addition benchmarking was utilized by Woods Bagot in the evolution of the vision and concept design study. In all twenty-five facilities were used in the benchmarking process (such as, North Carolina Research Campus, Kannapolis, NC, USA; The Clark Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, USA; The Dornbracht Farm Project, Frankfurt, Germany; Institute of Cell + Molecular Science, London, UK; Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA; and Barcelona Medical Institute, Barcelona, Spain) with site visits to Rutgers - Pre-School and Childhood Development Program, Rutgers - William Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, UMDNJ - Child Health Institute of New Jersey, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and the MIT - Media Lab.
At the beginning of October 2010 Woods Bagot presented the results of the visioning workshop and the programmatic design evaluations. This progress report was presented to the full committee for comment and discussion. Additional meetings were held with the planning committee, university representatives, community stakeholders, etc., throughout November 2010 to refine and finalize the report.
The final Vision and Concept Design Study was presented to the committee on November 23rd with unanimous approval by the committee. It was the fruitful culmination of four intense months of passionate work by Woods Bagot and the core committee. During the next couple of months Woods Bagot and the University Architect’s office finalized the budget for the building in preparation for the university’s authorization to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for an architectural firm to develop the design documents for the building.
In February and March 2011 the University Architect composed a draft of the RFP. During this time we also continued to work on the NJIFNH pro forma for review by the university.
In July 2011 we receive approval from the university to move ahead with the RFP to develop schematic level program documents (including floor plans, exterior building elevations, a typical building section, performance specifications defining the exterior building materials, interior finishes, and M.E.P. systems); and develop a construction cost estimate. The RFP was issued on August 12, 2011 to twenty-three architectural firms from around the world.
Eighteen architectural firms responded to the RFP yielding a good number of outstanding proposals. Six firms were selected to be interviewed by the committee of twelve consisting of individuals from the University Architect Office, Facilities Project Administration, Capital Planning & Development, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health. The interviews were held on September 20, 2011 with the firm of Ballinger selected as the top firm from a very prominent list of firms.
A kick-off meeting was held by the Ballinger firm on October 3, 2011. We reviewed the Concept Document put together by the Woods Bagot team and discussed the IFNH mission and vision. It was agreed that the Ballinger group would meet with the program committees to hear firsthand their vision for the new building. This would help Ballinger develop the building program including strategies to arrive at costs per gross square feet. These meetings were held over the following month and the findings were presented at the next building meeting held on November 10th. At this meeting Ballinger summarized the program meetings in regards to the programmatic needs of clinical nutrition research center, extension, wet and dry laboratories, conference/event center, healthy eating courtyard, nutritional pre-school center, human performance laboratory, core research facilities, and student health clinic. Stack and site issues were also discussed including parking, drop off for the nutritional preschool center and clinics, loading dock and storm water management.
A project status meeting was held on November 18th. At this meeting additional programmatic information for the student health clinic was reviewed, the gross square feet of the program was detailed, program adjacencies, program location variables, parking, nutritional preschool and clinic drop off were discussed along with the location of the loading dock. Preliminary site development options were presented detailing options to optimize pedestrian traffic moving through or around the building to gain access to other destinations on campus.
At the December 15th project status meeting transportation issues were discussed including parking, bus stop drop off and loading dock facility. The specific placement of the different programs within the building was discussed. This included which programs should be located close to each other, which programs did not have a need to be together and which floor would be best to locate different programs. Three different building designs were presented featuring different adjacencies of program space and layout.
Again at the January 12, 2012 status meeting transportation issues were discussed. The need to replace the parking spaces in Lot 90 being displaced by the building was discussed. A final location needs to be agreed upon but those spaces will be replaced. The approach to the loading dock located at the east side of the CAFT building was discussed. There was agreement that this would be the best location to have the loading dock for the new building while enhancing the current capacity of the CAFT Building's dock. There was further discussion regarding the program stacking (81k PDF) and plan development...discussing program adjacencies and site plan development.
At the February 2, 2012 project status meeting the following items were on the meeting agenda: Transportation, Site & Building Development, and Code/Sustainability Issues. Parking Lot 90 will be displaced by the new building. Possible replacement locations are across Dudley Road next to Lot 97 or adjacent to Lot 98A/98B. It was confirmed that the pre-school drop-off location at the north side of the building and the Foran Hall turnaround met fire truck code access standards. Fire code requires that the shared loading dock access with the CAFT building have a 2-hour rated fire wall separation at either end of the ground floor connections between the two buildings. The loading dock connection and possible new corridor at the ground level of CAFT were discussed including its possible impact on the CAFT Pilot Plant. The LEED Gold standard for sustainability was discussed including the LEED points anticipated as part of the project. The project is currently on target to attain LEED Gold status.
On February 7 & 8, 2012 Ballinger met with the individual program committees (Extension Office, Wet Labs, Core Facilities, Human Performance, Conference Center & Leadership, Children’s Nutritional Preschool, Healthy-Eating Courtyard, Clinics, and Dry Labs) to provide them with an update of the building design status and to gather further input from the committees regarding the design. In the meetings the committees’ original input was recapped along with details of what was programmed into the building taking into consideration a number of parameters that have come into play since the original meetings. The committees were then asked to provide their input and direction regarding preliminary design and programmatic intent for final design. Overall the committees were enthusiastic regarding the general design of the building and were supportive of the programmatic locations within the building and associated adjacencies. A desire for parking close to the building was expressed along with the desire to have additional office/private spaces for the researchers.
On February 15, 2012 the University Board of Governors approved the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health building project. With this approval we can move ahead with the design and development of the building construction documents. It is estimated that the construction documents will be completed by the end of this calendar year and that construction will begin in the spring of 2013 with occupancy of the building during the summer of 2015.
At the February 23rd project status meeting a couple of new issues were discussed. First, the utility company’s need to maintain the utility lines above ground on poles and not bury them as originally planned was discussed. And secondly, we received word during the meeting that RU central utility plant would not be able to handle the chilled water requirements of the new building without adding a new chiller to their plant. What impact these two items will have on the project and its budget is yet to be determined. The findings of the February 7th and 8th program committee meetings were recapped:
- Overall Enthusiasm For General Design Approach
- Endorsement of Programmatic Locations / Adjacencies
- General Acceptance of Connectivity & Service Strategy at Ground Floor
- Endorsement of Drop-Off and Short-Term Parking Location
- Concern Related to ADA Accessibility to Building and Site
- Desire for Additional Parking Closer to the Building
- Strong Desire Among Research Faculty for Additional Offices / Private Spaces
Modifications to the design that came out of the program committee meetings included the reworking of the layout for the Core Facility, the reduction to one main entrance for the Nutritional Preschool, relocation of the building’s southern entrance to provide an enhance layout configuration for the Human Performance Laboratory, relocation of the NJIFNH Resource Center to the Conference Center space providing additional space for the Student Health Clinic and the Clinical Nutrition Research Center and modification of the research wet laboratory space to provide additional support rooms.