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Tour: Radiation Physics Building at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Join the AIA|DC Public Architects Committee for a rare look at the at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a Mid-century Modern campus where the 222,000 square-foot Radiation Physics Building is undergoing a major rehabilitation and series of additions, the first of their kind since it was constructed more than sixty years ago. Hensel Phelps, the Construction Manager and ZGF Architects (HP/ZGF design-build team) will lead a tour of this unique facility, completed in 1964, as one of the first special purpose laboratories on the then new 579-acre federal research campus. Appropriately, the Radiation Physics Building will be one of the first original NIST structures to undergo a complete renovation, in accord with NISTs recently adopted twenty-year campus Master Plan.

As a center for uniquely-sensitive radiation research and a contributing resource within a National Register Eligible Historic District, NIST Building

245 has posed many demanding design and construction challenges, including task-specific laboratories, critical safety protocols, complex phasing, careful aesthetic integration with character defining features and review by multiple oversight agencies. NIST and the HP/ZGF design-build team will describe the need and vision for expansion and modernization; the analytical, programming, and design process to date; the ongoing intricacies and adjustments of construction; and the path ahead to project completion.

Co-Sponsored by: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Presented by: Peter Dougherty, AIA

Presenter Bio: Peter Dougherty is a Design Principal in ZGF’s Washington DC office who has guided projects of various types and scales, including academic, research, and cultural facilities, mixed-use developments, adaptive reuse projects, and master plans. Throughout his career, Peter has collaborated with clients including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Building Musuem. In partnership with the DC Office of Planning and the District Department of the Environment, he led the development of Sustainable DC, a 20-year vision plan for improving the environmental, social, and economic performance of Washington, DC, across a wide spectrum of key metrics.


At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify the key aspects of NIST’s Radiation Physics practice, and how these affected the function and position of Building 245 within the larger campus;
  • Articulate the essential technical and aesthetic challenges posed by the modernization and expansion of Building 245 within this historic, scientific context;

  • Explain the reason for the 1960s relocation of NIST from the District of Columbia to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and the master plan for the new campus; and

  • Understand how to balance critical scientific needs and historically-sensitive structures with the practical realities of change and implementation