New Nanomaterials Research Lab for the University of Chicago / by Michael Semenzin

In 2016, MRSA worked with the University of Chicago to design and build the Park Lab, four separate spaces for Dr. Jiwoong Park, his students, and the continuing research of nanomaterials. Since the lab has been built, Dr. Park has won an award to support a postdoctoral fellow to develop solar cells. [1] The lab continues to conduct research “on the science and technology of nanomaterials.” [2]

The Client: The University of Chicago and Dr. Jiwoong Park

In late 2015, the University of Chicago appointed Dr. Jiwoong Park as a faculty member. Dr. Park would begin in the Department of Chemistry and the Institute of Molecular Engineering in the middle of summer 2016. [3] During the transition period, MRSA worked with the University to begin to to build the nanomaterials research laboratory.

Project Initiation: Nanomaterials Research Laboratory

The University of Chicago issued an RFP and invited MRSA to bid on the 5,000 square foot research lab space, which included an office work space, a chemical research laboratory, a gas laboratory, and a laser laboratory. Once MRSA had been selected from the short list of architectural and engineering firms invited to bid on the project, MRSA worked closely with Dr. Park--as well as the University’s project management team and representatives from both the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the Physical Sciences Department--to learn his requirements for the four separate spaces that would eventually compose the Park Lab.

Architectural Specifications

LEED Certification

Specifications for the lab and office spaces came not only from Dr. Park, but also from University Standards. The Searle Chemical Laboratory Building, where the office space, chemical lab, and laser lab spaces are located, is the University of Chicago’s first LEED Gold Certification for a research building. [4] MRSA utilized its expertise in LEED certification to make sure the spaces were up to University and LEED standards.

Fire Rated Room

To make sure that all standards and specifications for this project were met, MRSA in coordination with Hera Consulting developed a detailed cross-referencing and documentation matrix. This ensured spaces like the gas laboratory had the correct high level of security and fire protection to accommodate what is needed for the Chemical Vapor Deposition process. In that case, MRSA created a fire rated room to store all the gases.

Nanomaterials Research Laboratory Completion

Before construction on the four separate spaces could begin, the existing spaces were gutted. The office space was completed first so that Dr. Park and his students could have a place to meet and discuss their research while the other lab spaces were still being constructed.

The entire project was completed in the fall of 2016, a couple of months after Dr. Park began his tenure at the University. Dr. Park greatly appreciated the new space and since then the Park Lab has continued to research not only atomically-thin integrated circuitry, but low-dimensional nanostructures as well. [5]

Whether you’re looking for a laboratory space that includes a gas lab, a laser lab, clean rooms, or maker spaces, MRSA can make your lab space a reality. Call us today to find out how.




Michael Semenzin

Measured, precise and highly dependent on teamwork, Michael employs a base-to-base strategy in developing and implementing your projects. Yet don't be surprised when he hits it out of the park – he is capable of going yard at any time. Michael is LEED AP certified, a member of the NCARB and licensed to practice in four states. Michael also shares his expertise with colleagues as a frequent instructor at BOMA sponsored workshops and training seminars.