Northeastern ISEC: The Integration of Programming With Design for a High-Performance Building

Barry Shiel, Payette
David Navick, Northeastern University

Northeastern University Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) a 236,000-square-foot research facility that provides state-of-the-science infrastructure, and increases the university's capacity to hire top faculty and academic leaders. The new facility will support teaching and interdisciplinary research programs fostering collaboration across disciplines in the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Bouvé College of Health Science, and the College of Computer and Information Science.

The organic architectural form and high performance architecture are carefully integrated with the building planning and program to facilitate conservation strategies, drastically reduce the building energy usage. These programmatic factors influence the project from the earliest concept design decisions to the final placement of equipment in space assigned to faculty research.

Working together with the University, the planning for the project was able to orient specific programs to building exterior exposure, and integrate passive air transfer between non-lab spaces by programmatically developing a desire event space as a central atrium. Laboratories were zoned by the intensity of energy utilization, and analyzed for diversity to significantly reduce energy.

As the building was designed to accommodate the expansion of faculty research, laboratories were design to respond to research themes, flexible and adaptable to the specific needs of future faculty hires.

Specific attention was placed on the efficiencies of the program and space allocations, minimizing the volume of space associated with experimental research. Additional strategies for efficiency were developed through the endorsement of shared capabilities at all levels, through a shared assignment approach for support laboratories and core lab facilities.

This holistic approach to integrating programming with the design of building systems has allowed the building to achieve both its sustainability and architectural goals. This session is case study of how programming integration with the sustainability goals achieves improved performance.

Learning Objectives

  • By the end of the session, participants will be able explain the benefits of programmatic orientation to building exterior exposure to reduce peak loads on systems.
  • Participants will be able to understand synergies between program and systems, leading to methods of reducing ventilation demands.
  • Participants will be able to the benefits of zoning laboratories by intensity of use to increase efficiency and reduce demand on systems and energy for both first cost and life cycle savings.
  • Participants will be able to summarize how programmatic and laboratory planning techniques can increases laboratory efficiency and flexibility to achieve savings on space and energy.


Barry Shiel, AIA is an Associate Principal with Payette in Boston, MA with over 30 years of experience in the planning, design and execution of buildings for science and technology. Barry was the Project Manager and Laboratory Planner for the Northeastern University ISEC. He has been the Project Manager for major projects at Payette, with extensive experience in academic research including the recent Frick Chemistry Laboratory at Princeton University and the Cairns Complex at Brock University

Dr. David Navick is the Associate Vice Provost for Budget and Planning at Northeastern University and led the academic programming efforts for the ISEC. His university experience includes teaching, advising, research, budget, space planning, institutional research, and analytics. A civil engineer by training, he served 20 years in the College of Engineering before moving to the Office of the Provost and holds masters' degrees and a Doctor of Philosophy, all from Northeastern University.


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