Calgon Carbon
Innovation Center Laboratories

Calgon Carbon is the world’s leading manufacturer of activated carbon, charcoal that has been heated or otherwise treated to increase its adsorptive power. It is their mission to develop and apply activated carbon technologies to protect people and the environment from contaminants in water, air, food and industrial processes. Formerly housed in a separate building, Calgon wanted to integrate their research and development department into one core, Class A office building. Their goal was to put science on display, accommodating public viewing of lab spaces  while also providing: clean/ dirty separation, industrial equipment sound isolation, pressurization of spaces to control dust migration, localized dust capture system, thermal processes.

Transparency is important to Calgon. The design team made a strong effort for all researchers to have exterior views connecting them with the circadian rhythm of daylight, enhancing safety, work wellbeing and creating a more dynamic architectural experience. The design team utilized an open lab scheme, yet succeeded in strategically placing all 29 fume hoods to avoid blocking exterior views.

The team designed an internal u-shaped semi-public access corridor though the highly specialized laboratories. Thoughtful attention to the location of internal helps to decompartmentalize separate laboratories and provides visual contact among researchers and visitors.

Various research processes needed to be accommodated within this facility. Some rooms and doors received acoustic treatments which brought noise levels as loud as 120 dB down to the 35 dB required by ASHRAE. Other processes required an extensive duct capture system as wells as a system of fume hoods, some of which had to handle fume temperatures in excess of 500 degrees. A veritable labyrinth of ductwork and pipes were integrated into the design so that the required engineering would not to eliminate the architectural goals. Equipment vibration also had to be mitigated using various isolation methods. One lab had significant wet processes that previously created unsafe conditions. Creating a giant shallow “bathtub” to capture spills allowed the research to be done safely.

It is not hard to understand why many labs simply become engineered facilities without much consideration to human needs beyond safety. This facility takes the typical lab a step further, operating peacefully within its quiet surroundings while improving air quality rather than expelling pollution into the air. The thoughtful design has given Calgon and their neighbors the solution they were looking for.

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