Argonne Energy Sciences Building

Providing 21st Century Scientific Infrastructure
From the outset your team provided outstanding project leadership and built collaborative relationships with the entire project team. From coordinating the site logistics, to providing critical technical expertise, craftsmanship and construction ingenuity, Clark exceeded my expectations for quality.
Jeffrey A. Sims, PE, SE, PMP, Program Manager, Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne, Illinois
Argonne National Laboratory
Contract Value: 
160,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 
LEED Gold (targeted)

The Energy Sciences Building (ESB) at Argonne National Laboratory is a sustainable interdisciplinary physical sciences laboratory designed to encourage collaboration between some of the country's leading scientists in fields of energy-related research. This Department of Energy-funded 160,000 square foot facility will house over 240 researchers. It has linkages to the campus pathway system and connections to adjoining research and office buildings, creating a new consolidated campus for the energy sciences.

Clark provided general contracting services for the construction of the 160,000 square-foot facility, which includes a mechanical penthouse. The ESB features 50,000 square feet of laboratory space. Designed to accommodate scientific research rooted at the subatomic level, this space is isolated from acoustic, vibration, or electromagnetic interference. Research conducted in the new facility includes the development of highly-reliable, safe, and long-lived battery systems; revolutionary, efficient, and environmentally-friendly chemical transformation processes for creating novel feedstocks and fuels; and transformational systems for solar energy production. The ESB also includes 20,000 square feet of office space, 5,000 square feet of amenities, and 7,000 square feet of support spaces.

The facility, which anticipates earning LEED Gold certification, stands on a prominent site near Argonne's main entrance and will combine with other facilities to form the campus' "Energy Quad" around a common interior courtyard.

The building's 50,000 square feet of laboratory space was designed and built on a standard module to promote flexibility and accommodate Argonne's evolving needs. Casework systems in the laboratories incorporate innovative ceiling-mounted overhead service carriers for laboratory utilities — allowing Argonne to easily reconfigure equipment and workstations on the floor as the need arises.

The north elevation of the building is defined by a copper-anodized rain screen metal panel frame that surrounds a transparent low-iron glass façade. The south elevation features copper anodized panels and irregularly punched windows that limit solar penetration. A pair of two-story, stair-stepped atria are topped with skylights and greet building visitors. The atrium is finished with faux rusted metal panels, reclaimed wood paneling, and stainless steel and glass guardrails.

The building is equipped with over 100 low-flow variable volume fume hoods that reduce energy consumption, exhaust, and make-up airflow. This system contributes to an overall energy performance that exceeds baseline standards by 38 percent.

The project team faced a challenge due to a changing set of laboratory requirements as the mix of researchers and the science they would be conducting evolved over the development of this project. To address this challenge, the team integrated a high level of flexibility into the design of the laboratories and their respective support systems.

Both design and construction were challenged by the need to lower the loading dock of the adjacent building by one story to allow for common usage by both buildings and the developing "Energy Quad" without compromising the adjacent structure, disrupting the adjacent building's utilities service, or depriving that facility of loading dock access. The solution required innovative design work, modifying a third building's loading dock, significant underground utilities coordination and working closely with building management for two different buildings throughout construction.

Adding a new building onto Argonne's existing campus presented numerous infrastructure challenges. Existing chilled water lines crossing beneath the Energy Sciences Building footprint served an adjacent research building. These lines were successfully re-routed without disruption to on-going experiments by coordinating the related construction work with that building's research schedule.

Tying in new underground power duct banks to the existing campus system required intense coordination, numerous meetings with the Central Plant, Argonne site utilities, and the operators of a nearby supercomputer facility as well as minute-by-minute coordination during the operation to assure continual adequate cooling to the supercomputer.

Replacing a section of the campus' underground steam loop again required multiple coordination meetings and teamwork between Argonne site utilities and project team forces to assure continual campus-wide steam availability.


Clark incorporated a number of new, state-of-the-art construction processes during this project. Clark utilized a new software system (Bluebeam) that allowed them to create, edit, mark-up, collaborate, and share PDF documents with the entire project team, including the client, architect and subcontractors. This also minimized the time and effort required to flip through the drawings to find specific details: embedded hyperlinks allowed users to click on a section or detail symbol to automatically access that section or detail.

Adding to the efficiencies, Clark was almost entirely paperless on the project by managing all contract documents electronically, including all RFIs, submittals, and shop drawings. By managing and maintaining all of the necessary information to construct the project electronically, all of the information was available in the field via smart phones and tablets, further streamlining the coordination and overall construction process.


Over more than 450,000 manhours, the Argonne ESB did not record a single lost-time incident. This stellar safety record is due to the team going above and beyond industry safety standards. Clark's dedicated safety professional was augmented by the construction manager's full-time safety manager, as well as a safety consultant and the client's safety personnel.

Chicago Building Congress - Merit Award for New Construction, Suburbs