DOHMH and NYCEDC break ground on NYC public health lab

New York Construction Report staff writer

A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the new NYC Public Health Laboratory this week, adjacent to the Harlem Hospital complex on 137th Street.

Construction of the new building began in June of 2022 following the demolition of three existing buildings and is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2026.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is managing construction on what is described as “a cutting-edge facility” operated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

“We can’t afford to wait for the next pandemic to strengthen our public health infrastructure,” said Mayor Eric Adams. “The NYC Public Health Laboratory will bring a state-of-the-art facility to Harlem to serve and protect the public health of all New Yorkers. I look forward to working with the DOHMH and NYCEDC to build this nation-leading laboratory to keep New Yorkers safe and healthy for generations to come.”

The 10-story, 240,000-sq. ft. building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will comply with New York City’s new resiliency and sustainability regulations. The $454-million building will be designed to meet LEED version 4 Silver and be a resilient structure with all critical building systems located above the current 100-year flood plain.

DOHMH and NYCEDC secured $25 million from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) to make the new lab one of the most energy efficient, sustainable and high-tech laboratories in the country. Some of the energy conservation measures in the new Public Health Laboratory will be ultra-efficient laboratory equipment, solar photovoltaic panels and chilled beams. It will also have a cogeneration plant to provide significant energy and cost savings.

“Skanska is honored to be the construction partner on this project, marking this key milestone,” said Theodora Diamantis, vice-president and account manager of Skanska USA Building. “This ground-breaking is an exciting moment for the City of New York and the Harlem community as it’s another step closer to reinforcing the City’s focus in protecting and promoting health and mental well-being.”

The new facility will incorporate the city’s 80×50 program, which is committed to achieving an 80 percent carbon emissions reduction by the year 2050. The NYC Public Health Laboratory was the world’s first municipal bacteriological laboratory. In the century since its first campaign to control diphtheria in NYC, the Public Health Lab has expanded to provide a variety of clinical and environmental laboratory testing services to detect and characterize disease causing organisms.

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