JAX Lab Unveiled, on Time and Budget

Published on October 7th, 2014

Emblematic of Connecticut’s aspirations in the biosciences, the $135 million Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington was dedicated on October 7 at ceremonies attended by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other distinguished guests.

Centerbrook Architects in collaboration with Tsoi/Kobus & Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts designed the new research facility, which was built by The Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit research institution based in Maine and with facilities in California as well. It is a designated National Cancer Institute research center.

Centerbrook also is working on or has recently completed a number of other science and research projects, including an addition and renovations to the UConn School of Medicine, the new UConn Health Center Outpatient Pavilion, a new DNA Learning Center for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and a new Academic Laboratory Building for Southern Connecticut State University.

The 183,500-square-foot JAX building is set on a 16-acre site adjacent to the University of Connecticut Health Center Campus and houses state-of-the-art laboratories where scientists will probe the human genome for new solutions to cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes and other daunting diseases.

The design team was charged with creating a building sophisticated enough to entice internationally acclaimed scientists, bold enough to symbolize the state of Connecticut's commitment to advanced research, yet practical enough for an economic nonprofit organization serious about its mission.

“The only constant in laboratory design is change,” said Centerbrook Partner Jim Childress. “As we plan research facilities, we ask the management and user groups and ourselves ‘What if the technology changes or your research mission changes?’ With few exceptions, virtually every laboratory is liable to be repurposed in the near term. We have to plan for that, including innovations that can’t be envisioned today.”

JAX Genomic Medicine includes 17 “wet” biology labs and another 17 “dry” computational science labs, along with scientific service areas. The labs are clustered in large open suites to encourage collaboration among scientists and technicians, and to enable spaces to be reconfigured quickly and easily as research programs grow or evolve.

At the building's entrance visitors walk into a light-filled, double-story vaulted reception area leading to a 200-seat auditorium, two large conference/seminar rooms, and a 200-seat dining area that opens into an outdoor courtyard. On the second floor are core service labs, a data center, offices, conference rooms, an employee fitness center, and an informal seating area referred to as the “pub” for casual networking and formal pre-conference gatherings. Research labs and faculty offices will predominate on the third and fourth floors.

Key Project Metrics:

  • Design and construction cost: $135 million
  • Construction site: 16+ acres
  • Square footage: 183,500
  • Stories: four, plus a penthouse for mechanical utilities
  • Labs: 17 "wet" biology labs, 17 "dry" computational biology labs
  • Employee capacity: 330
  • Auditorium seating capacity: 200
  • Hours of labor for design and construction: 590,000
  • Share of construction cost spent with Connecticut businesses: 87 percent
  • Share spent on small businesses: 26 percent
  • Share spent on minority-owned businesses: 18.5 percent