Research & Development Facility Kornberg Center, Madison, WI, USA

Research & Development Facility Kornberg Center
Research & Development Facility Kornberg Center

The new building is home to various uses such as biological research laboratories, conference and administrative areas, a gym and cafeteria. The design places people at its core, creating an inspiring and welcoming environment with an abundance of daylight, fresh air, biophilic integrated nature and green space. The innovative building integrates multiple design strategies to provide pleasant comfort for users. It keeps its carbon footprint low thanks to energy efficiency and adds forward-looking resilience to the humid continental climate, ensuring the building's longevity.

Essential to the Kornberg Center is its breathable, two-layer building envelope. In selected areas, it consists of an exterior glass curtain wall with automated opening sashes and an interior façade with corresponding opening sashes. The laboratory areas are excluded, as natural ventilation is not possible due to the specific operating requirements. Combined, the facade layers deliver higher efficiency in terms of thermal protection than a more costly single-layer high-performance wall. It improves thermal comfort, reduces heat loss and allows natural ventilation of the adjacent office areas.

The goal was to infuse the entire building with daylight; detailed daylighting studies supported the design. Movable solar shading curtains in the double facade provide efficient summer thermal protection. The atrium is naturally lit via transparent vertical surfaces. The internal circulation system, which is designed as wooden connecting walkways suspended from the roof structure, also indirectly allows daylight access to the laboratories.

The workpoint and collaborative spaces are grouped around the atrium, where large ceiling fans provide gentle air movement and optimize comfort in winter as well as in summer.

The building is supplied with heat and cooling by a heat pump connected to a geothermal field. Peak loads are covered by a local heating network. Radiant heating and cooling provide a high level of thermal comfort. The office areas are conditioned with a total of around 34 kilometers of piping in the exposed concrete ceilings and the atrium via the floor.

In the office areas and the atrium, ventilation is hybrid. This means that natural ventilation is possible in moderate outdoor conditions, and mechanical ventilation otherwise. The air is supplied using so-called displacement ventilation, whereby fresh air enters the room through air outlets in the floor, then slowly moves upwards, where it is exhausted through overflow openings in the ceiling. This turbulence-free introduction of supply air into the room efficiently replaces the polluted room air without mixing or causing discomfort.

The most important energy savings were achieved in the laboratories with their essential mechanical ventilation. A system with enthalpy wheel recovers both sensible and latent heat from the laboratory exhaust air.

Including the energy input from photovoltaics, the Kornberg Center's energy consumption is 65% less than that of a comparable conventionally built facility. The other parts of the flat roof are greened, and rainwater is collected and used.

2023 SEFA Lab of the Year: High Honors Award

Research & Development Facility Kornberg Center

Natural ventilation concept sketch. Copyright: Joshua M. Vanwyck, JMV Consulting

Research & Development Facility Kornberg Center