Rogers Partners designing the Factory of the Future in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Building 20

Rogers Partners is collaborating with Nanotronics to design its flagship production center and East Coast headquarters in Building 20 of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Seamlessly integrating the design, engineering and production of advanced factory control instruments requires a complete reinvention of a historic ship manufacturing site. Construction the projected $11.4 million expansion of the 34,000 square-foot facility is expected to be completed within a year.

“Tech companies have moved toward integrating design and engineering but rarely has this been done with manufacturing as well,” said Vincent Lee, the Nanotronics project director for Rogers Partners. “This facility blurs all the lines that typically separate the production process so everyone can see the value they are contributing—from the machinists to the software engineers to the solutions architects.”

The design approach leaves the long and narrow historic building shell largely intact by inserting stacked, enclosed yet transparent “pods” on two floors with double-height public spaces nestled in between. On the first floor are the milling and assembly teams, in addition to tech services, sales and product development. On the second story is a series of workspaces for the company’s c-suite, engineering and design groups, connected by bridges that form a figure-eight layout to emphasize the seamless flow of the entire production process.

“This 150-year old building was home to the high-tech industry of its day: armoring wooden ships,” noted Rob Rogers, founder of Rogers Partners. “Now it is being repurposed for an entirely new high-tech industry: optical inspection tools for technologies like semiconductors. We’ve come a long way from armoring wooden ships. This is what makes cities so dynamic—it’s where ideas thrive.”

The pod approach resolves the critical design challenge of how to create enclosed workspaces – some of which need to be airtight and soundproof, as well as highly climate-controlled – without cutting up the building, impeding the flow of collaborative spaces or compromising the beauty of the long, narrow building (300 feet long by 88 feet wide). The design integrates old and new building features as much as it integrates the high-tech production process.

“Working with Rob and Vince has been one of those wonderful collaborations that clicked right off the bat,” said Matthew Putman, CEO of Nanotronics. “Rogers’ physical translation of the Nanotronics vision goes beyond building the future factory. Our new home will be a cathedral to manufacturing’s future, built on the foundation of New York’s industrial past.” Source by Rogers Partners images Courtesy of Lisa Chamberlain.

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