Argonne National Laboratory



  • Laboratory space for up to 76 researchers, together with support staff and visitor
  • A physical connection to the Advanced Photon Source (APS)
  • Onsite parking for up to 126 vehicles
  • An integrated loading dock for ease of access

Flexible, Modular, Collaborative

The Advanced Protein Characterization Facility (APCF)is a one-story steel structure split into an office bar and a laboratory bar that are connected by a circulation spine. The two separate spaces are intended to be codependent, allowing scientists to move easily between their laboratories and research offices.

The flexible modular approach strongly enhances the ability to implement technological improvements and reassign space without significant effort or cost, while maintaining an orderly approach to laboratory configurations as research needs evolve. In addition to the highly specialized crystallization suite, the research areas generally consist of open lab, lab support, and shared core lab facilities. The open lab modules provide large flexible research areas rather than small modules assigned to a single task. More efficient and flexible, the open lab concept also promotes collaboration and interaction. The separate but adjacent lab support areas accommodate major lab equipment, which reduces noise in the open lab and enhances safety with fume hood and chemical storage alcoves.

The primary exterior materials in the office bar are glass and metal. The office bar contains open workstations, closed offices, administration spaces, four conference rooms, and the lobby. The individual closed offices and workstations are designed for privacy, but they are organized in a manner to facilitate interaction, based on proximity within the building, between the primary researcher and their staff, as well as between various lab researchers.

The lobby is a space for interaction and may display art or research news, or it may be used as a gathering space. The conference rooms support moderate size gatherings of people, but also may support visual display of scientific research. The break room and circulation spine are public spaces for retreat and relaxation. Lastly, the link between the two buildings creates an incidental interaction between users of the building.


Sustainability was a major driver during the design of the Advanced Protein Characterization Facility, located on the southwestern tip of the Argonne campus. A variety of early sustainable decisions shaped the overall form of the building.

For example, the center spine that separates offices from laboratories brings an abundance of natural light into the center of the building. Where the building needs less light, there are no windows, cutting down on solar heat.

The building is also mechanically efficient. Chilled beams, waste heat recovery, and ventilation using an Aircuity® system were used wherever possible.

Outside the building, the site has permeable paving and several bioswales to contain storm water. Most of the plants are native and irrigation-free to eliminate watering.

Other sustainable features include:

  • SageGlass®: Electronically tintable glass located along the south façade controls sunlight without shades or blinds. Occupants can manage glare and heat while maintaining a connection to the outdoors. The technology embedded in the glass results in abundant daylight, increased occupant comfort, and new levels of energy efficiency.
  • Energy Recovery Wheel: Energy recovery wheels enable ventilators to provide fresh outdoor air at one-third the cost of conventional systems. Outdoor air raises indoor air quality by reducing indoor air pollution, which improves the health and productivity of building occupants. This technology not only reduces energy costs and heating/cooling loads, but also allows for scaling down building system equipment.
  • Interior Environment: Sustainable features include laboratory casework high in recycled content, as well as nonporous phenolic resin countertops made from post-consumer waste. High-performance (low-flow) fume hoods may reduce overall energy use. The layout of the building allows 75% of regularly occupied spaces to be lit by natural daylight during normal business hours, and 90% of regularly occupied spaces have views of the outdoors.