Jet Propulsion Laboratory Flight Projects Center

Pasadena, California

State-of-the-art research facility becomes NASA’s first LEED Gold-certified project

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Flight Projects Center is a six-story, 195,000-square-foot facility that expands the campus and provides state-of-the-art workspace for JPL teams. The sustainably-designed project was not only the second LEED-certified building completed for NASA, but also its first project to achieve LEED Gold certification.

Interior spaces were designed to be flexible so JPL teams can assemble as required for different scenarios. The building has 20 “project suites,” each of which accommodates a single team of 25 to 75 people and includes workstations, private offices and a war room—a large conference room with audio-visual capabilities that supports team collaboration. Each project suite has access to shared support spaces that include conference rooms, copy rooms, break areas and restrooms.

The expansive ground floor lobby is finished with metal wall panels and a stone floor that leads to a nearly 8,000-square-foot, 428-seat auditorium. Additional gathering space is located in the basement where a 2,900-square-foot multipurpose room can be divided into two rooms. The second through fifth floors house the project suites and the sixth floor is devoted to executive offices.

To achieve LEED Gold, the team took an aggressive approach to sustainable design. A prime example of this effort can be seen in the design of the auditorium, where a thick concrete shell is buried into the site and covered with a vegetated roof that insulates the building from solar heat gain and minimizes the demand on its HVAC system. Passive solar strategies were applied to window locations: North-facing windows are maximized to let in natural light, south-facing windows are shielded with horizontal sunshades and glazing on the east and west was kept to a minimum.

The 1.79-acre sloping site has several major landscaping features, including an entry plaza with a grand staircase leading down from the street, a courtyard that provides breakout space for the multipurpose room and a sunken courtyard. Sustainable landscape measures include drought tolerant and native plant materials, plus a high-efficiency drip irrigation system.

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