North Carolina State University – Plant Sciences Building

  • area / size 185,000 sqft
  • Completed 2022
  • Flad Architects completed the Plant Sciences Building for North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Flad Architects collaborated with North Carolina State University to design the new Plant Sciences Building with the goal of becoming the premier plant science research center in North America.

    Located on NC State’s Centennial Campus, the Plant Sciences Building is the new home for the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI) – a massive research program seeking to improve the world through plant science innovation and solve the most pressing agriculture challenges of our time.

    The modern infrastructure of this interdisciplinary science hub brings agricultural academic, government, and industry researchers into a collaborative environment to advance discovery through diverse partnerships.

    Built to house a wide range of grant-based research initiatives, the challenge was to design a building without knowing the exact users and their specific needs. The Flad design team met with over 100 stakeholders from the university and external partners to create high-tech research space that is flexible to accommodate current and future needs.

    A terra-cotta rainscreen wall system functions as the primary exterior cladding, providing a distinctive yet complementary presence within the campus context, which is predominately red brick. Extensive glazing is coupled with custom stainless-steel sunshades for solar control while maximizing transparency and showcasing the unique programs inside. Modeling of shading angles informed design to achieve optimal reduction of glare and heat gain.

    The building is organized into neighborhoods, and design of the building responds to the program’s goal with two research wings linked on each floor through a collaborative center. This social hub organizes the facility around greeting and connecting faculty, students, agricultural partners, and collaborators.

    An open, bright first floor lobby features a glass-clad demonstration lab showcasing research and extension programs, designed to put science on display and showcase N.C. PSI’s research to all visitors. The first floor also features an education area celebrating the future of cutting-edge ag bioscience. This two-story space frames views of the campus and connects directly to an exterior front porch – together these spaces host community gatherings, program events, and everyday interactions.

    The landscape design also celebrates North Carolina’s agricultural economy. Rotating outdoor exhibits and test plots feature technologies that are currently under development, reinforcing the message that researchers are never far from the field nor the farmers who participate in and benefit from the ongoing research. In addition, the rooftop features 11 highly flexible, 24-foot-tall greenhouses, designed to support a wide range of research needs. The greenhouses feature compartments for BL-2P and -3P containment, making it one of the few BL-3P research greenhouse facilities in the U.S.

    In response to the inherently energy-intensive nature of the research spaces, the design strategy was developed around selection of energy-reducing systems and sustainable materials and has achieved LEED Gold certification.

    Design: Flad Architects
    Experiential Design and Media: ZEBRADOG
    Photography: Mark Herboth