Lawrence Berkeley Lab issues wish list for new campus

Aerial view of Lawrence Berkeley Lab/Photo: LBL

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory released today the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for their proposed second campus. The second campus, announced in September, is designed to consolidate four remote sites and allow for future growth for LBL, which is constrained by the physical limits of its main site in the Berkeley hills above the university. LBL is one of the Department of Energy’s national labs, and is managed by the University of California.

“Putting all those scattered facilities on one site will bring efficiencies,” said Sam Chapman, LBL’s manager for state and community relations. Currently, in addition to the main site, LBL has the Joint BioEnergy Institute in Emeryville, the Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Oakland and parts of the Life Sciences Division in West Berkeley.

The RFQ lists 20 criteria for the new campus, including space for up to 2 million gross sq. ft. of research and development facilities. The new site is also expected to be within a 20-25 minute commute of the LBL main entrance at Blackberry Gate.

The one site specifically mentioned in the RFQ is the Richmond Field Station (RFS), which is already owned by the university. The RFQ states: “RFS by and large meets the parameters of the Site Attributes. Respondents to this RFQ should know that the University may choose to site the second campus at RFS and will be evaluating potential sites relative to their ability to better meet the needs of the University and the DOE.”

Chapman said today that the 20 criteria in the RFQ are an “ideal”, which no single site can match. Responses to the RFQ are required by March 4, and the lab expects to have a shortlist by April and a final site selection by June. The schedule calls for construction on the new site to begin in 2013 and for occupancy by the end of 2015.

“There has been a lot of interest in the project,” said Jeff Miller, LBL’s head of public affairs. He said there have been 30 requests for the RFQ so far, “but until we receive formal proposals, we don’t know how many there will be.” City officials have said there are a number of developers interested in providing the second campus in Berkeley, but there is likely to be fierce competition from other cities, including Oakland and Alameda, as well as the presumptive favorite in Richmond.

The new campus is expected to have 800 employees from the outset. LBL measures its national economic impact at$1.6 billion.

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  • Alan Tobey

    Google Maps shows the “driving time” from LBNL to the Richmond Field Station as 21-22 minutes without traffic delays, near the limit specified in the RFQ — but that’s an unrealistic estimate for actual “commute time” on ever-clogged I-80 and congested city streets such as University Ave. Since a lot of commuting between campuses will be going on to facilitate joint work, the door is still open for closer site locations. Alameda (far side of the freeway Maze) seems beyond the practical limit, so the realistic sustainable-travel horizon favors Oakland, Emeryville or Berkeley — whose potential sites are not nearly as expansive and unconstrained as RFS’s.

    So I read this as a challenge to would-be developers and their city governments: “RFS would be an easy site to build out, but it’s really too far from LBNL. Show us a closer alternative that meets most of our needs.” In Berkeley, Mayor Bates has been known to favor “keeping” LBNL here — but can the city get behind one (or more) competitive proposal(s)?

  • Mike Farrell

    Why would you use University or I 80?

  • Alan Tobey

    Google routes via San Pablo are no faster (not counting traffic), and San Pablo is often as congested as the freeway.

  • Why is it that the DOE & UC Berekley are always looking to purchase and develop land previously undeveloped? What is wrong with redevelopment in the heart of the proposed “Green corridor”. The City of Richmond could benefit greatly from the redevelpment of their community into a scientific Mecca. Stop grabbing California’s resources! Why is it a secret that UC Regents are involved in the selling of California State Buildings? Sell strawberry canyon to the state or local county and use the funds to develop Richmond!

  • Michael Eli

    So basically UC Regents have decided that is time for BP to develop on the California Coast. Is there going to be any sort of voter approval or a Environmental Impact Report done by the DOE? Has anyone from “Save the Bay” weighed in on this proposal to build on our protected Coast?

  • Mike Farrell