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Gaithersburg Campus Master Plan Public Information Meeting

Thank you. I’m pleased to be here to discuss our process for creating a 20-year master plan for NIST’s Gaithersburg campus. 

For anyone who’s not familiar with NIST, we are a federal laboratory that is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. We’re sometimes called industry’s national lab, because our main mission is to advance innovation and industrial competitiveness.

We do this in a way that may not be obvious. We continually improve the nation’s measurement system, and we develop standards that allow new products to compete on a level playing field with established ones. 

NIST was created back in 1901 as one of the nation’s first federal laboratories.  

If you think about all of the incredible technologies we use every day—from cars to computers to the internet to life-saving medical treatments—NIST has helped foster the advance of these technologies in important ways.

For example, most of us have replaced road maps with our cell phones and GPS. This system depends on atomic clocks. NIST invented the first atomic clock in 1949, and we’ve been improving them ever since. Without this technology, none of the sophisticated navigation tools we use every day would work.  

Our researchers also have helped the companies that make our mobile phones and computers to continually shrink the size of computer chips. Some circuits in today’s computer chips are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, and NIST advances in precision imaging and other measurement tools helped make that possible.

NIST scientists and engineers are often the world’s experts in specific measuring fields. And to do their jobs, they need world-class research facilities. 

The 20-year plan that we’re discussing this evening will create a vision for the future of the NIST campus. It answers the question: what buildings and infrastructure do we expect NIST research labs to need to meet our mission over the next two decades? 

Our campus here in Gaithersburg includes 579 acres and more than 60 buildings. 

We have a few newer buildings that are state of the art or even beyond state of the art, but the vast majority of the campus was constructed in the mid-1960s. 

In the last 50 years, the building environment required for research has changed dramatically. This means many of our buildings are woefully inadequate for advanced research needs.

We, of course, do routine maintenance every year, but fundamental changes like much better control of temperature or vibration stability may require new construction or gutting a building and starting over. 

Most buildings also are not energy efficient. So, we may need renovations to improve energy conservation or take advantage of renewable energy sources like solar power.

Overall, our master plan changes fall into three broad categories: better buildings and physical support for advanced research, improvements to campus access and traffic flow, and enhanced energy use and sustainability.
We’re creating this plan in consultation with the City of Gaithersburg planning staff; the National Capital Planning Commission; and the Maryland Historic Trust, since our campus was recently designated as an historic district.  

We’ve established a website where the public and city staff can view the plan as it develops, and related information.

At this point, I’d like to turn things over to NIST’s Susan Cantilli who can provide more details.

Created September 27, 2017