Active since 1988, the Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA) is an international organization that seeks to develop and promote design and quality standards for products that contribute to the creation of safe, efficient and sustainable laboratories. Its committees represent a key place for corporate representatives, architects and professionals to come together to determine the most demanding standards for products and activities.
In 2020, the first edition of SEFA Lab of the Year competition took place, replacing the original award, started in 1967 and run by the Lab Design Conference, that had become a major international award for designers, clients, contractors and manufacturers. The prestigious award went to the new laboratories at Rockefeller University’s East River Campus in New York, using a design by Rafael Viñoly Architects. The new campus extends the University - founded in 1901 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan - right up to the East River, above Franklin Delano Roosvelt (FDR) Drive, one of the main parkways for the city. The ambitious project sought to create large, flexible laboratory spaces that would encourage interaction between researchers, and provide collaborative and communal spaces such as dining areas, conference facilities and recreational spots, also to forge closer ties to the local community. The success of the project was also in part the work of BICASA, a leading Italian firm in the production of technical furniture and chemical hoods that was tasked with designing, producing and installing the new laboratories. “The success in producing over 7,000 sq. m of innovative research laboratories at the East River Campus is a clear demonstration of the value underlying SEFA’s mission to find standards of excellence for the design and creation of laboratories. Our company worked with Italian, Austrian, German and American suppliers. SEFA Lab of the Year 2020 truly shows the international spirit and cooperation of the association” says Fabio Biffi, General Manager of BICASA.
The biggest design and construction challenge was the site itself, sitting on a narrow sliver of land near the river and above FDR Drive. As a consequence, the structure of the building was designed to consist of 19 prefabricated modules -
produced in New Jersey - that were transported to the site by barge along the East River and installed at night because traffic had to be completely blocked. This also included having to manage the daily shifting of tides and the strong river currents.
The result was a new “gallery building”, visible from the east, but not from the historic campus. It brings unity to the existing buildings, regenerates the promenade along the East River and creates a safe, resilient and unique communal space.
Entries for the 2021 SEFA Lab of the
Year competition can be uploaded at www.sefalabs.com. The deadline to submit your project is July 1, 2021.
SEFA - Scientific Equipment & Furniture Association
65, Hilton Avenue - USA - Garden City, NY 11530