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Duke University Medical Center—Solutions for Lighting & Daylighting Systems

Laura Carlson, AIA, Hillier Architecture

Hillier was invited back to Duke to design a second Medical Science Research Building as part of the Medical Schools phased plan for this area of the campus. The 160,000 square foot MSRB2, positioned at the entryway to this research hub, is designed with a significant vivarium on the lower level—which includes holding areas for small animals and primates.

Labs21 Connection:

Using a kit of parts from the first building, this new facility is arranged to take advantage of its prominent site, and located a tower as sentinel or gateway along Research Drive. Unlike the original science building, the MSRB2 has the advantage of it's orientation to optimize exposure to natural sunlight. In order to truly see energy savings from this orientation, light sensors have been designed throughout the building to minimize the use of artificial light during the daytime hours. These sensors are also coupled with motion detection so that during time of low or no natural lights, energy is not wasted when laboratories and offices are vacant. Like the original science building designed by Hillier on this site, sun screens have been designed into the east, west, and southern exposures to reduce direct light and eliminate glare. Light shelves and sloped ceilings enhance this design so natural light is “bounced” deep into the building. Lab casework is developed with light grey epoxy tops and natural maple veneers. These low albedo finishes enhance the building's ability to use less energy.


Laura Carlson, AIA is a Senior Associate and Laboratory Planner/Architect at Hillier Architecture. After working at the firm as an intern for three years, Laura joined Hillier Architecture in 1989. As a laboratory designer and programmer, Laura has worked on several of Hillier's largest research and development commissions. Her work has taken her from Princeton to the firm's Australia office, where her ability to clearly present technical details to her clients has made her a valued designer. Her skills have translated well into her work with educational science facilities, where she effectively combines complex physical requirements with successful design plans.


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