Human Health and Performance Laboratory (Building 21), Johnson Space Center at NASA, Houston, TX

Size: 118,000 sf

Project team: HDR; Design Daly (Furniture Planning); HDR Claunch & Miller, Inc. (Civil Engineering); Parametrix, Inc. (Cost Estimating); LandTech, Inc. (Site Surveying); Fugro Consultants, Inc. (Geotechnical); Hensel Phelps Construction Company (Construction Contractor); GILBANE Building Company (Quality Control Managers)

Description: This laboratory facility is the new home for the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Biomedical Research & Environmental Sciences Division, the primary agency organization focused on enhancing astronaut health and performance while mitigating the human system risks associated with spaceflight. The building efficiently consolidates and replaces multiple aging and obsolete facilities at JSC into an integrated design to enhance collaboration and innovation among scientists, clinicians, and engineers. The design reflects NASA’s investment on human exploration of deep space. The building’s layout supports efficiency and flexibility of laboratory functions and their adjacent offices with communal, support, and staff amenities that enhance the well-being of its occupants.

The three-story building’s site placement at an angle to both the street and the square grid of the JSC campus optimizes solar orientation and marks a bold departure from the existing campus as do the building’s high-tech functional forms, exterior materials, colors and textures. The long windowless outside wall of the high-bay features a pattern of contrasting glossy and flat black stone designed to mimic a DNA sequence. The exterior landscape design features evoke the celestial geometry of the solar system and the dynamic movement of the planets and moons orbiting around the sun. The south wing houses two levels of bioanalytical laboratories, while the north wing houses flexible high-bay laboratories for human performance evaluations. A two-story structure with administrative and collaborative spaces featuring controlled natural daylight connects the two wings. Centralized corridors for utility operations and functions do not detract from valuable laboratory spaces to assure that scientific and mission operations protocols are not compromised.

Designed to achieve a LEED Silver Certification per the USGBC, the building incorporates many innovative technological, sustainable and energy-efficient features.

Completion Date: July 2017

Contact: Dennis Patrick, Professional Associate, HDR:, 972-365-5571