December 10, 2020

For the past year, Epstein has been providing an array of design, engineering and construction services for a confidential international food science and manufacturing company. This scope of this project consisted of two main buildings:

  • The renovation of a 40,000-square-foot, 2-story research and development building, also referred to as the global innovation center;
  • And a new 300,000-square-foot, 2-story manufacturing building. The building’s first floor features 150,000 square feet of automated packaging, warehousing, and distribution center, while the second floor boasts 150,000 square feet of food production and blending operations.

For the global innovation center, Epstein is serving as the DesignBuilder, providing full planning and design services. We were also responsible for full mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural design to completely modernize and update every system in the building, which included code and energy compliance checks and campus-wide fire protection investigation and reporting. Furthermore, our team provided full scientific lab design, lab equipment coordination and culinary kitchen exhaust system design.

For the manufacturing building, Epstein is also the DesignBuilder, provided full service design (architecture and interior), engineering (civil, MEP/FP, structural) and construction services.

When approached for this global innovation center, Epstein was tasked with a multi-layered design program. The facility had to function not only as a scientific testing center for the development of new products, but also as a strategic interaction space, capable of hosting clients for visual and taste tests. Being a diverse design and engineering firm, Epstein was uniquely poised to provide not just a turn-key solution, but an in-house solution. Furthermore, our extensive knowledge of food production, process, and testing environments allowed us to move quickly through MEP system layouts without the need of multiple outside vendors for items such as the kitchen exhaust design and testing equipment coordination.

The core of this project is the food science facility, which is a multi-functional, open concept space where food scientists develop new products, conduct research, and examine products in culinary test labs. This space also provides standard office functions, such as the ability to hold meetings and meet with clients. Epstein implemented an array of team spaces of varying sizes to accommodate all of these functions, including small huddle rooms, medium conference spaces, and large training and lecture areas. As a result, the design was achieved by using cooperative work environments with flexibility through the use of varied furniture surfaces, space configurations and acoustic controls.

The food science test kitchens, pilot lab and large culinary center are all equally as important. In these spaces, products move from concept to implementation with the focus again on communal work zones and client interaction. Epstein provided full MEP design and coordination for more than 200 pieces of equipment, from autoclaves to ovens. The culinary center is a fully-functional commercial kitchen with adjoining sensory lab and conference area where food products are prepared and served.

Some of the key elements required to bring these buildings to fruition include:

  • Site and building surveying – 3D laser scanning for existing building spaces as well as site scanning using drone technology
  • Schematic design and program planning – initial concept design, space planning, among others
  • Design development – site and building documentation for local jurisdiction review
  • Laboratory design – custom millwork and casework, testing benches and scientific equipment coordination
  • Industrial process engineering – process flow diagraming, warehouse analysis, shipping/receiving daily turnaround evaluation, trucking logistics and staging analysis

The end result was a scientific research building that doesn’t feel like a traditional laboratory. Rather, it looks to the future by providing areas for collaborative research for multiple group sizes and maintains cleanliness with modern surfaces and finishes and still provides an elevated interior design.

Being well-versed in food production technology, modern construction methods, and integrated project delivery allowed Epstein to deliver the building design as well as a roadmap, so the client could understand how the project would progress from inception to completion with a well-defined series of mile markers. Furthermore, our DesignBuild group utilized their proven “Flash Track” approach to optimize the construction timeline and provide real-time cost estimates and schedules throughout the build process.