Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Janelia Farm


  • Washington Building Congress, Three Category Craftsmanship Award Winner; Two Star Award Nominee
Mona Electric Group, Inc. wrapped up construction in the fall of 2006 on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new $500 million Janelia Farm research Campus in Loudon County, Va. The research laboratory and conference center sits on a 681-acre site in Loudon County along the Potomac River, eight miles north of the Dulles Airport and 30 miles west of Washington, D.C. The project was the epitome of teamwork, necessitating constant interaction between hundreds of contractors, designers, architects, and electricians. The HHMI project ranks as one of the largest construction and electrical projects in the Metropolitan area. The team that headed up the construction and design was general contractor Turner Construction, architect Rafael Vinoly Associates, and engineer Burt Hill Kosar Rittleman.

The centerpiece Landscape Building, dedicated to the support of the research enterprise, is 900 feet long with serpentine corridors, walled on three sides by structurally glazed glass, column-free lab and office space and a 180,000-sq.-ft green roof. It is stepped up into a hillside, affording each floor access to landscaped outdoor spaces. The ground floor contains meeting, food service, administrative service, and vibration- and height-sensitive support spaces. The two upper floors are devoted to research space. The laboratory floors exhibit a clear organization of office, lab, support, and interaction spaces.

Within the labs, all of the service functions -- electrical, communications, gas and vacuum -- are easily accessible from floor service boxes that support the lab bench bollards. Vertical bollard stands fed through the floor in the laboratory spaces make modifications easier. A laboratory can be reconfigured from one function to another in a matter of hours and without the need for plumbers, carpenters, or electricians.

The unique aspect of this project was that Mona was responsible for the installation, termination, and testing of two 35,000-volt feeds into the building and the distribution of the 35,000 volts through the length of the building. These feeds wind through to a series of eight step-down transformers, which reduce the voltage to a usable 4,160 volts and 480 volts. The 4,160 volts were used for the building’s chiller plant and emergency generator systems.

A one-story 96-room conference housing building faces the main structure across a road and pond, connected by an underground tunnel. The hotel/conference center portion of the project was designed to accommodate science seminars and various-sized meetings organized by the Janelia researchers or other HHMI investigators.

HHMI expects that the research topics pursued at Janelia Farm will change over time but will always focus on areas at the forefront of technological innovation that will benefit from the unique collaborative and interdisciplinary culture of Janelia Farm.

Winner: Washington Building Congress, Three Category Craftsmanship Award Winner; Two Star Award Nominee