Rendering of the Public Health Laboratory. Courtesy of NYCEDC.
City officials today ‘broke ground’ on the new NYC Public Health Laboratory, which will be located adjacent to the Harlem Hospital complex on 137th Street. New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) 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 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.”
“New York City has one of the finest public health laboratories in the world, and it’s about time their space reflects the caliber of the work they do,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “NYC Health + Hospitals is proud to be neighbors and ongoing collaborative partners in public health.”
“By investing in the New York City Public Health Laboratory, we are investing in world-class research, emergency preparedness, and most importantly the health and safety of all New Yorkers,” said DCAS Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock. “At DCAS, our entire mission is about making city government work for all New Yorkers and we firmly believe public health resources like this laboratory will benefit us all. We look forward to the future ribbon cutting and celebrating a more sustainable, energy efficient facility. We are pleased to support our sister agencies, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Health + Hospitals, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, in this endeavor.”
“The New York City Public Health Laboratory will redefine the city’s frontline defense against pandemics and other health threats,” said SOM Design Partner Mustafa Abadan. “With its mission of protecting the health of over 8 million New Yorkers from new and familiar health threats, it is difficult to imagine a more important and timely project than the new New York City Public Health Lab. SOM is grateful to be a part of a great project team contributing to the advancement of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s vital purpose.”
“Skanska is honored to be the construction partner on this project, marking this key milestone,” said Theodora Diamantis, Vice President and Account Manager of Skanska USA Building. “This groundbreaking is an exciting moment for the City of New York and the Harlem community as it’s another step closer to reinforcing the City’s focus in protecting and promoting health and mental well-being.”
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.
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 percent 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 NYC, 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 Avenue. 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.
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.
New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that creates shared prosperity across New York City by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. We work with and for communities to bring emerging industries to New York City; develop spaces and facilities for businesses; empower New Yorkers through training and skill-building; and invest in sustainable and innovative projects that make the city a great place to live and work. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.