Informed Infrastructure | April 1, 2021
MBH Architects began the initial design phase for 930 Brittan Avenue in 2017. The development—which consisted of three warehouses that were renovated and combined into a single facility—now includes a new ground-up three-story addition. The design objective was for the space to be colorful and lively, furnished with fun yet durable materials that would meet day-to-day researcher needs and welcome potential investors into an inviting space.
While the 930 Brittan laboratory was finalizing construction in early 2020, the United States was hit by the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic. Seven Bay Area counties were among the first in the nation to implement a shelter-in-place order, with the entire State of California following suit shortly after. Within the first week, MBC BioLabs and Dewey Land Company moved to have the project at 930 Brittan deemed essential. Due to the emphasis on the vaccine and healthcare-related research, construction was permitted to continue and reach completion in August. Design and construction teams began operating in a new workflow, conducting remote meetings and limited site visits. The luxury of time had vanished, and everyone had to act fast and respond quickly to any questions from the field. Teams instituted their own safety protocols including masks, temperature checks, and social distancing.
The new laboratory is home to four companies—two of which are nonprofits—that are devoted to developing fast, accurate, and budget-friendly COVID-19 tests. In fact, one company was awarded a National Institutes of Health Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (NIH RADx grant to continue their important work. Ultimately, MBC BioLabs’ mandate is to increase the number of SARS CoV-2 tests from about 0.5 million per day to over five million per day by mid-September.
As laboratories are energy-dense environments, MBC BioLabs, together with MBH Architects, worked hard to ensure all lab equipment appliances were Energy Star-rated. In addition, 930 Brittan’s rooftop is equipped with solar panels to help with energy production—a Bloom Energy Box will eventually be installed once an additional MBC BioLabs building has been completed adjacent at 1030 Brittan, to help the new lab campus form its own microgrid by converting fuel into electricity through an electrochemical process.
Published: Informed Infrastructure
Photography credit: Tyler Chartier