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Brookhaven National Lab awards $61.8 million building contract for new support center

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) awarded a $61.8 million contract to Plainview-based E.W. Howell this month to construct a new Science and User Support Center.

The 75,000-square-foot facility will serve as a welcome center for guests, researchers and facility users arriving at the lab, the BNL announced in a press release.

The energy department’s Office of Science is funding the forthcoming center, which will cost a total of $86.2 million.

Construction — expected to begin the first quarter of 2022 — will be a milestone for the lab’s Discovery Park project. This larger initiative entails redeveloping the entryway to the BNL campus with facilities for research, guest housing and public education.

A center for thousands of guests

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 5,000 guests traveled to work and conduct research at BNL each year. Whether it’s for an experiment at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider or a workshop on smart grids, the lab attracts visitors from the state, the nation and the globe.

Research collaborations continue, primarily via remote access during the pandemic, but the lab expects a return to normal operations soon. The new support center will exist as the initial destination for guests upon their arrival at the laboratory.

The support center will also house conference space for collaborative efforts and office workspace for about 250 lab employees.

Discovery Park

The support center is among many projects planned for the lab’s 60-acre Discovery Park. The projects are divided into three sections.

Upton Square, acting as the “user village” in Discovery Park, will include the support center and a housing facility for visiting scientists and researchers with nearby food services and other amenities.

This village will also include the New York Center for Grid Innovation. The proposed research facility will focus on to New York state’s commitment to grid modernization, resiliency and security. It will provide simulation capabilities and training opportunities for future electric grid workers.

Discovery Park’s other two sections call for privately funded initiatives. The park will include a public science education center for students, teachers and the local community, as well as a technology park for research and development.