While no one can predict what the NIH campus will look like in 2033, the Office of Research Facilities has proposed a 20-year master plan (using 2013 as a baseline) that envisions the middle of three possibilities: stay the same, grow slow or put the pedal to the metal.
Conceding that everything within a nearly 500-page Bethesda Campus Master Plan is contingent on future budgets, opportunities and policy, ORF has nonetheless gazed into the crystal ball and made some reasoned forecasts.
Currently, federal agencies are being pressured to reduce operating costs and NIH’s highest operating cost is leased space. So the “proposed action alternative” in the master plan calls for transforming obsolete research buildings into administrative space. The next priority is to replace unusable or outdated facilities with new ones. To meet these goals, NIH is proposing to:
- Increase the campus workforce by 3,000 employees and contractors, which would bump the current total of 20,594 up to 23,594. The impact on morning and evening rushes is predicted to be around 12 percent more NIH vehicles. When taking into account that NIH’s contribution to local traffic constitutes only about 25 percent of the traffic, the impact is estimated to be 3 percent. Also, by then, mass transit developments such as the Purple Line and bus rapid transit might well be in place, thereby offsetting the congestion effects.
- Construct an estimated 17 new and replacement buildings for administrative and support space for an approximate additional 4.5 million gross square feet (GSF). This includes three new parking garages. Bldg. 31 would be demolished in favor of an IC headquarters—Bldg. 21—of about 600,000 GSF. Of the new buildings, 5 are scheduled for intramural research. The new buildings are projected to be approximately 1.6 million GSF of new laboratory and research support space.
- Stabilize approximately 500,000 GSF of space in the old Clinical Center complex to prepare it for adaptive reuse, in addition to the 2,900,000 GSF scheduled to be renovated already.
- Convert Bldgs. 4, 5, 8 and 30 to administrative space.
- Continue upgrading and modernizing program for utilities and infrastructure, particularly the central heating and refrigeration plant, campus steam, chilled water and electric power distribution systems.
- Replace housing and care facilities for animals used in research with state-of-the-art facilities that satisfy modern design, accreditation and program requirements.
- Consolidate surface parking into multiple-level parking structures.
- Reorganize the physical facilities on campus to improve research program functions, raise the aesthetic level or ambience and protect older campus buildings of historic value.
- Construct expanded child care facilities for employees and other amenities including small-scale retail and food services.
- Demolish an approximate 1.5 million GSF including the Bldg. 21 campus waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities.
- Enhance the natural buffer zone around the periphery of campus by removing surface parking and increasing landscape plantings.
Details of the plan include adding conference and cafeteria space to Bldg. 1 and building an NIH Data Center, police station and Natcher II addition. The master plan is also geek heaven for NIH trivia buffs, who can discover that portions of the west part of campus drain not into Rock Creek but Booze Creek.
The entire master plan and its associated Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) are available online at http://nems.nih.gov/Pages/nepa.aspx. A 30-day comment period for the FEIS ends Jan. 5; comments may be sent to email@example.com or Valerie Nottingham in Bldg. 13, Rm. 2S11.—Rich McManus