Wastewater Treatment Plant

The various waste products generated by a biological laboratory are complex and need special treatment before they can be returned to the ground water system. As the lab grew, its sand-filter water treatment system became inadequate and a new system would have to occupy the same site because all the waste pipes from the various lab buildings terminated there.


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Location Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Year Completed 1976
Photo Credit Jeff Goldberg/Esto, Derek Hayn/Centerbrook

This location happened to be one of the most beautiful spots on the laboratory grounds for viewing Cold Spring Harbor. A large building was required to house the water treatment equipment, and there was concern that it would block views to the harbor, as well as be unsightly in its own right.

The solution was to bury the equipment building deep into the natural hillside, staying above the high water line, and make it a visual asset rather than a liability. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete, its concrete plank roof covered with a brick terrace. The existing hillside was regraded around and on top of the building, and extensive planting and landscaping was done.

The building's east side, which faces the harbor, sports a wood-shingled gazebo topped by a copper finial made by project architect Bill Grover. It is modeled after the adenovirus molecule, used in cancer research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

It is hoped that when visitors visit the lab, they will be impressed by the beauty of the natural surroundings and the gazebo, and unaware that a waste treatment plant exists beneath it.