New York City Breaks Ground $454M Public Health Laboratory Project

New York City Breaks Ground $454M Public Health Laboratory Project
A rendering of the new NYC Public Health Laboratory in Harlem.

NEW YORK—On July 6, city officials broke ground on the new NYC Public Health Laboratory, which will be located adjacent to the Harlem Hospital complex on 137th Street. The project has been valued at approximately $454 million.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is managing the construction on what will be a cutting-edge facility operated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and tasked with protecting and promoting the health of all New Yorkers and keeping the city at the forefront of disease response and investigation.

“We can’t afford to wait for the next pandemic to strengthen our public health infrastructure,” said New York City 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 New York City PHL is the greatest public health lab in the world and, throughout our city’s history, the scientists who work there have heroically responded to health emergencies, infectious diseases, and are a pillar of disease prevention and surveillance,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “This vital piece of public health infrastructure demands better physical infrastructure, which this state-of-the art laboratory complex will have. We’re proud that PHL will be an embodiment of New York City as the public health capital of the world, and will lead in innovation and training the next generation of public health laboratory scientists.”

“We are working to ensure our best and brightest have the state-of-the-art facilities they need and deserve to continue their groundbreaking and lifesaving efforts on behalf of our city,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “During the pandemic, our scientists never wavered in their efforts to track COVID-19 or other viruses. This new lab will offer them the tools and resources needed to identify future health threats, while the lab’s new location will benefit public health equity, which has never been more vital.”

The 10-story, 240,000-square-foot building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was designed with staff wellness in mind, and will comply with New York City’s new, ambitious 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.

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.

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.

The new Public Health Laboratory participated in the city’s 80×50 program, which is committed to achieving an 80% 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 New York City, the Public Health Lab has expanded to provide a variety of clinical and environmental laboratory testing services to detect and characterize disease causing organisms.

Since the 1960s, the Public Health Lab has occupied 11 floors of a 335,000-square-foot, 14- story building, across the street from Bellevue Hospital at 455 First Ave. The Public Health Lab has expanded over the years, and the more than 200 staff members now provide a variety of clinical and environmental laboratory testing services including community testing for tuberculosis and sexual health associated diseases; antibiotic resistance testing; food borne disease investigations; outbreak response (Ebola, Legionnaires’ disease, COVID-19, monkeypox); whole genome sequencing; beach water and wastewater pathogen monitoring; and biothreat agent testing.

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