The University of California, Los Angeles, officially opened its California NanoSystems Institute this month. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, the seven-story building houses state-of-the-art laboratories for nanotechnology research.
The facility is constructed partially below grade, sited on a narrow, steep lot adjacent to a parking structure. This location, plus the diverse lab requirements of nanoscience, posed considerable architectural challenges. The parking structure, initially considered to be an obstacle, became a design impetus for the project—three floors of the building were constructed over the parking structure. CNSI's entrance lobby connects to the parking structure and to research floors through a zigzag network of suspended bridges and stairs in the building's central courtyard.
Key features of the building include: floor-to-ceiling poles that provide rapid air/data/gas/power disconnect for each lab bench; mobile interior furnishings that foster kinetic environment of collaboration; and an open-air entrance off the university's Court of Sciences to promote collegial interaction.