Argonne's computing Zen

By Eleanor TaylorNovember 2, 2009

New Theory and Computing Science building to foster collaboration and scientific breakthroughs

No longer mere tools in the search for technical knowledge, computers have become increasingly essential to almost every aspect of science and engineering. As computers and computer sciences become more closely tied to the scientific work they have aided for decades, they accelerate discoveries and enable breakthroughs that benefit society. 

As part of this transformation, the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory recently opened a world-class interdisciplinary research center which is dedicated to large-scale computation and builds on Argonne’s strengths in high-performance computing software, advanced hardware architectures and applications expertise.

Equally important, was designing an environment that encourages people to work together in solving  the great scientific, energy, environment and security challenges of our time.

The new Theory and Computing Sciences building, also known as TCS, provides the space and facilities to bring together, for the first time, over 600 researchers across a wide range of computing  and scientific disciplines.

“Innovation is driven by multiple perspectives to the same problem,” said Rick Stevens, Argonne’s associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences, “A major goal of TCS was to create an environment that inspires interdisciplinary science and collaboration.”

Unlike any other building on Argonne's sprawling 1,500-acre campus, TCS was specifically designed to be an open and flexible workspace to encourage the free flow of ideas between scientists at Argonne as well as the technology to connect researchers across the globe. 

Construction of the more than 200,000 square-foot, seven-story-tall TCS building was completed in late summer 2009.  It features a unique zen garden, a vast library, as well as a multitude of open spaces and conference rooms.

From desktops to leadership computers, modeling, simulation and data analytics are employed in virtually every research division at  Argonne.  TCS is home to the technical resources and computational expertise that will accelerate results in a wide variety of applications, including energy storage, metagenomics, climate modeling and materials discovery.  

TCS also offers a publicly accessible conference area where researchers, university and industry partners, as well as the local community, can hold meetings of up to 200 people in a large auditorium with four multipurpose breakout rooms.