Harris Celebrates Grand Opening of Chu Hall at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Project management of leading solar research center was a worthy challenge
Chu Hall / Solar Energy Research Center
People gathering for the ribbon cutting
Steven Chu speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony
Harris Project Manager, Jules P. Feher and CEO Lisa Larrabee at the ribbon cutting
Representatives from Harris & Associates joined science dignitaries on May 26 to cut the ribbon on Chu Hall, a solar research facility that promises to change the world with its renewable energy discoveries. Harris proudly served as project manager for this cutting-edge structure, from design review through construction and project closeout.
Originally dubbed the Solar Energy Research Center, the $56.9 million, three-story, 40,000 square-foot building—part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—was renamed in honor of Steven Chu, the former U.S. Energy Secretary and Nobel laureate whose vision helped inspire its creation.
Within Chu Hall, teams of scientists will work to harness the sun's power the way plants do: not to simply generate electricity, but to actually create carbon-neutral fuels that could change the entire paradigm of powering the world. "The risks of climate change are very, very real, but the solution …has to be [economically] competitive with fossil fuel," said Steven Chu at the ceremony. Recent technological advances are bringing this dream closer to reality; a low-power prototype is already functioning.
Making the building a reality proved a formidable challenge for Harris. The building sits atop a hill on a high-security campus, hemmed in by other buildings and another construction site only 15 feet away. Senior Project Manager Jules Feher and his team also had to account for vibration-sensitive research equipment using innovations such as an oversized first-level floor plate, with isolation joints on all four sides.
"Research facilities like this come with unique challenges," said Feher. "It was an honor to work with such an experienced team on a building that will do such important work for our planet."
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