Research facility will analyze threats to national security

April 5, 2002

Research facility will analyze threats to national security


A new facility that will assist Laboratory researchers in conducting analyses of national security threats from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction took a major step toward reality Thursday.

With Rep. Ellen Tauscher, University of California Vice-President John McTague, Laboratory Director Bruce Tarter and others wielding shovels, ground was broken for the International Security Research Facility.

The new two-story building, set for the west side of the Laboratory, will consolidate Livermore’s nonproliferation and intelligence-related operations into a single building. It will also replace the current main building that is about 40 years old and lacks the needed infrastructure for digital communication.

“Just as the Laboratory helped the nation win the Cold War, this facility will enable the Lab to help the nation win the war on terrorism,” said Tauscher during groundbreaking ceremonies.

Tarter, who emceed the ceremonies, explained the new facility will serve as the Lab’s “command post for connectivity to Washington” and its efforts to fight terrorism and proliferation.

“It’s not the building that will be important, but the people who will be in the building that will be important,” added Rhys Williams, the Nuclear Division director at the DOE Office of Intelligence. “The president and Congress see the products of this Laboratory.”

The 64,000-square-foot building will house NAI’s International Assessments Program, plus other areas of the Laboratory involved in global security, and counterproliferation research and analysis. The total budget for the building is about $25 million.

“The International Security Research Facility will help the Laboratory meet the U.S. intelligence community’s growing need for accurate and timely expert analysis about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” said Melanie Elder, leader of the International Assessments Program. “The demand for these assessments has accelerated dramatically since the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Laboratory international security research assists the Department of Energy as well as other federal agencies, the U.S. military forces and senior policy makers.

“International security research is a growing area of the Laboratory’s nonproliferation mission,” said Wayne Shotts, associate director for the Nonproliferation, Arms Control and International Security (NAI) directorate. “This new facility will allow us to bring together the broad spectrum of Laboratory disciplines, from bioscience and chemistry to nuclear science and engineering, that is vital to the nation’s effort to assess and counter threats to international security.”

“The Laboratory provides a broadly informed, multidisciplinary resource to the intelligence community and policy programs,” said John Illige, deputy leader of the International Assessments Program. “This facility will allow us to apply cutting-edge information technology tools to our work.”

The International Security Research Facility will incorporate offices for 180 workers, along with conference rooms, video teleconference facilities, an extensive document library, a graphics lab, digital photo lab and print plant.

Benicia-based Lathrop Construction Associates Inc. has been awarded the contract to construct the new building during the next 16 to 18 months. Occupancy is expected in late 2004. The facility was designed by the San Francisco-based architectural firm of Edward J. Gee & Associates.

With the International Security Research Facility, Livermore researchers will have “essential electronic connectivity with the U.S. intelligence community,” Illige said.

“This connectivity will permit LLNL analysts to take advantage of the advances in information technology that are revolutionizing the way intelligence information is distributed, analysis is performed, and products are peer-reviewed and disseminated.”

Another bonus of the new building, according to Illige, is that the International Security Research Facility has a flexible design and can be readily configured to meet changing needs. “This is particularly helpful as most NAI programs are subject to change and are expected to undergo substantial expansions in the wake of the Sept. 11 events.”

Project manager Roger White cited the teamwork of the people involved with the facility as an important reason for its success.
“Many of the innovative ideas that have been developed for this building have come about because of the different people working together on this effort,” White said.

During the groundbreaking ceremonies, both Tarter and Elder took time to thank Shotts as well as recently retired Buddy Swingle — who had headed the International Assessment Program — for their efforts in making the ISRF a reality.

McTague, the vice president of Laboratory Management of the University of California, said the Lab’s groundbreaking was an example of the important role the Lab plays in international security as the Laboratory celebrates its 50-year anniversary and embarks on the future.

The new facility, which will be Bldg. 140, will offer higher energy efficiencies and modern utilities, helping to reduce maintenance and operational costs. The building also employs “sustainable materials”-materials that are easy to produce, available locally (to save energy costs) and recyclable.

As a part of the building operations, an existing nearby solar array from a past Laboratory research project will be used to supplement the facility’s heating.

Translucent skylights will be used to bring natural light to the ground floor hallways and offices. “We’re trying to bring in elements that are aesthetic and that create a pleasant work environment,” White said.