Campus' NW Quadrant Most Affected|
Child Care Center Leads New Round of Construction
By Rich McManus
On the Front Page...
Ground will soon be broken for a new campus Child Care Center, located just east of the
Natcher Bldg. near Rockville Pike. This project, scheduled to last about a year, will
accommodate 100 children (most hailing from the current day care facility in Bldg. 35). The
project leads a fresh round of construction that includes the new North Electrical Substation, a
low-rise structure tucked into woods west of the Children's Inn, which breaks ground this
summer, and a new Fire Station, to sit partially upon what is now parking lot 10K near Center
Drive and Old Georgetown Road, which is slated to start this fall.
The new round of construction had been anticipated in the 1995 master plan for NIH, reports
Stella Serras Fiotes, an architect and master planner for the Office of Research Services. But
because the "footprint" of the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center and the relocation of
Center Drive have extended further north of original plans and displaced some facilities foreseen
in the 1995 master plan, the new buildings were re-sited following a 6-month-long study. Last
November, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved NIH's Northwest Quad
Amendment to the master plan, clearing the way for the new projects to begin.
Sketch of the new Fire Station to be built along Center Drive in the coming months.
Taking the projects in the order in which ORS' Division of Engineering Services will be building
them, Serras Fiotes, who also coordinates all project submissions with NCPC, had the following
comments about each one:
- The East Child Care Center will be built partly on parking lot 45B, east of the Natcher Bldg.,
which will result in a loss of 180 parking spaces (though pay-parking in that vicinity will be
unaffected). Some of the spaces will be restored when construction is complete, although
eventually the area is planned to be landscaped to provide outdoor play space for the children.
The center will encompass some 21,000-square-feet and house about 100 children, 80 of them
pre-kindergarten, and 20 kindergartners. Many of the children will be from the current Bldg. 35
day care center; that center must close to accommodate future plans on that side of campus.
Construction is expected to take a little less than a year.
Artist's rendering of new East Child Care Center, which breaks ground soon between Bldg. 45
and Rockville Pike.|
- A new electrical substation will go on a wooded site west of the Children's Inn, starting very
soon. "It will be low-rise, and fairly well tucked away," noted Serras Fiotes. "Its scale is similar
to Bldg. 46, the west substation." The north substation will support increased electrical loads
from the CRC and other new campus buildings.
- The new Fire Station should start in Fall 2000. It will permanently remove about 160 spaces
from parking lot 10K. The 21,300-square-foot facility will take about 18 months to build and will
replace an antiquated fire station currently housed behind Bldg. 12. Its new site along Center
Drive, near the county fire house, will give firefighters quicker access to campus facilities than
the current fire station allows. According to plans by DES' Design, Construction and Alteration
Branch, the Fire Station will have six apparatus bays, training facilities and quarters for up to 24
Lot 10 K, near the corner of Center Drive and Old Georgetown Rd., will be the site of the new
Fire Station. A county fire house is nestled in trees at rear in this photo.
- The new NIH Family Lodge, a sort of adult Children's Inn (see story in Mar. 21, 2000 issue),
will soon enter the design phase, and is intended to open "as close to the finish of the CRC as
possible," said Serras Fiotes. "Construction won't start for at least a year, but I understand that
fund-raising for the project is progressing nicely." The lodge will sit along Center Drive, near
Bldg. 60 (the Cloister). Some 100 parking spaces will be lost once construction starts (see
Looking ahead, the master plan amendment for the NW Quad proposes a Northwest Parking
Structure, a 6 ½ -level garage with space for 850 cars. Taking up space currently occupied by
parking lots 10D and 10C, it would result in a net gain of 650 spaces for the northwest quadrant
of campus affected by most of the projects mentioned above. Also part of the vision for the NW
Quad, after the CRC opens, is a North Child Care Center (the master plan anticipates four
on-campus centers, located on the four points of the compass), which would accommodate 100
youngsters including the infant center currently in Trailer TR-46. Like the East center, it would
take about a year to build. It would be located on a site now crowded with CRC construction
Construction trailers mark the site of the future North Child Care Center, which is scheduled
to be built after the Clinical Research Center opens.
The campus master planning process itself is in the midst of a year-long review that began in
April, Serras Fiotes said. "We've embarked on a Y2K update for the entire campus." Planners
will conduct interviews at all levels of the organization in a process that will review the 1995
master plan in light of the realities of the past 5 years and will speak to the space and
infrastructure needs of the future. The effort is expected to wrap up next spring.
Beyond that, in the time window of 2002-2010, Serras Fiotes shed light on some major projects
now on the drafting table. A National Neuroscience Research Center (NNRC) is planned for the
west side of the campus. The NNRC will be designed as an integrated complex linked by a
shared public space and will be constructed in phases. The initial phase of construction will be
approximately 200,000 square feet of research space located on the site of the existing Bldg. 35.
Site map of Northwest Quadrant shows location of proposed new structures.
Another major project will be the 4 to 5-story Central Vivarium, or animal holding facility,
encompassing some 300,000 square feet on a site that is currently a mulch pit for the grounds
maintenance and landscaping section just south of the Bldg. 14/28 complex. Eventually, this
outdated, low-rise animal building complex will be razed to make room for the proposed South
Quad. Three new lab buildings of roughly the same size as Bldg. 50 would be located in this
area, along with a service building.
In the nearer term, Bldg. 3, now a veteran lab facility, will be renovated like its carbon
copy Bldg. 2 and be reserved for administrative offices like the recently
reopened 2. The scientists from Bldg. 3 will fill Bldg. 50 once that project wraps up late this year
and early in 2001.
Parking Spaces: NIH Giveth, and NIH Taketh Away
One can't speak of the ying of new buildings at NIH without considering the yang of parking. On
a campus hemmed in by dense suburbs and only the memory of a pastoral past, real estate is no
longer an inexhaustible resource. Because federal regulations insist on a strict limit on parking
spaces and NIH's own master plan advocates greenery and buffer zones adjacent to
neighborhoods, allocation of such spaces becomes a sort of shell game, or zero-sum exercise.
Explaining the intricacies of this game in a series of dog-and-pony shows around NIH is Stella
Serras Fiotes, architect and master planner for the Office of Research Services. She is briefing
such groups as the ORS advisory committee and the executive officers on details of NIH's new
5-Year Parking Plan.
Recently, armed with maps and binders crammed with tables, she indicated where NIH is
removing parking to accommodate new buildings, and how ORS is ameliorating the losses.
The biggest relief from the parking crunch has come from a contract NIH has had with Colonial
Parking since 1997, which established several managed lots on campus where attendants "stack"
cars by using aisle space for parking.
"What started out as a real culture shock at NIH has become very acceptable," reports Serras
Fiotes. "Because of stacked parking, capacity has been the best we've seen since 1995, yielding
almost 1,000 new spaces."
The six parking facilities on campus currently managed by Colonial represent about 5,000
spaces. NIH initially thought that conversion of visitor lots to paid parking would pay for the
Colonial contract. "But the visitor parking demand dwindled," said Serras Fiotes. The 1,000
spaces originally dedicated to visitor parking have since been scaled back to about 600. Revenue
from those spots covers 30 percent of the Colonial contract. NIH has paid the difference,
explained Serras Fiotes, because "management has come to see this system as a benefit. It has
provided a solution to our lack of spaces, it has made our workforce more
mobile people can leave and come back during the day without fear of getting shut
out and employees can arrive later and still have a shot at a space. Also, there are side
benefits such as security; with attendants at the lots, people feel more secure. And the attendants
are good about jump-starting cars, fixing flats and helping people find their cars."
To address immediate parking losses due to construction of the East Child Care Center and the
new Fire Station, stacking will be introduced at MLP-7 (the multi-level garage adjacent to the
Lister Hill Center), the Natcher garage and possibly lot 41, said Serras Fiotes. "That would put
80 percent of our parking capacity under stacked parking." In general, stacking yields about 20
percent more parking, she observed.
At the moment, parking lot 41 has, on any given day (surveys are conducted weekly) some
200-250 vacant spaces. This isn't much of a margin given the total number of spots, cautions
She noted that restoration of Bldg. 10's ACRF garage recently returned about 1,200 spaces to the
mix. But in another year or so, lot 31C near Cedar Lane and its 300 spaces will be permanently
removed in favor of a stormwater management pond required by the new Clinical Research
So NIH parking comes and goes the best way to stay abreast is to watch signs, read the
Record and visit the ORS parking web site at http://www.nih.gov/od/ors/parking/parking.htm.
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