Know what a buckminsterfullerene C60 is? In the field of nanotechnology, it's the scientific name for a “buckyball,” one of the simplest of the carbon structures. And while these structures are known for their simplicity, the physical facilities in which they are researched are anything but.

In March of 2008, DPR completed a 10,000-sq.-ft. buildout of a research laboratory for emerging nanoscience technologies for the California Institute of Technology Kavli Research Institute. The 8-month project, which took place in a fully occupied, functioning facility, included three classes of cleanrooms: Class 100, Class 1,000 and Class 10,000 - similar to highly technical microelectronic manufacturing facilities.

Although well-experienced in cleanroom construction, with its large ductwork and stringent clean-construction protocols, DPR still had to overcome several challenges in the building of the Caltech Kavli research laboratory. The Kavli lab is located in the subbasement of a five-story building, two levels below grade, which means the space in which to locate the mechanical systems that support the laboratory's equipment was limited. Simply put, space was extremely tight. DPR quickly mitigated the problem, however, by working with the HVAC contractor to design/assist the mechanical needs of the project.

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