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Okinawan Graduate University Becoming Model for Other Research Facilities in Japan

MENLO PARK, CA, July 13, 2010 – Following an opening ceremony, scientists from the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology (OIST), have now moved into the first of the new research buildings.

Kornberg Associates I Architects ( announced the completion of the 350,000 ft² first stage of development for the government funded scientific research campus and graduate university.  Phase 1, totaling 700,000 ft² and slated for completion in 2012, will include two additional research buildings.

Kornberg is collaborating on the 3,000 researcher, 2,300,000 ft² OIST campus design with Nikken Sekkei, Japan’s largest architectural/engineering company, and Kuniken, Okinawa’s largest architecture/engineering firm.  OIST is located on a 550 acre site in a rural resort area of Okinawa Prefecture and includes a kilometer long beachfront facing the East China Sea.

“OIST presents a novel solution for housing, retail services, power, waste treatment, and transportation in a manner that engages the native community and provides a special vitality to the Institute,” said Ken Kornberg, the firm’s founder and president.  “Research buildings have been planned in a cluster formation, connected by skywalks to further reduce impact on ecologically-sensitive canyon areas. The library, auditorium, and cafeteria are centrally located to minimize environmental impact.”

The research facilities, noted Kornberg, are accessed from the new village by a bridge spanning a lake that is designed to contain sediment. The bridge connects to a subterranean gallery leading to 4 high-speed elevators that rise 100-feet to the research campus which has stunning ocean and canyon vistas.  Core research facilities at the campus center include electron microscopes, nuclear magnetic resonance devices, mass spectrometers, x-ray crystallography, a sequencing center, and BioSafety Level 1,2, 3 labs (BSL-4, the highest containment level labs are not on-site). The current programs support neuroscience and environmental research.

“For flexibility we designed the buildings with full-height interstitial zones and designed a modular custom furniture system for the labs for additional adaptability. Base cabinets are modular and movable to any location,” said Kornberg.

Kornberg Associates I Architects (, established in 1979, is the world’s oldest, independent lab/research design firm.  The company provides a full range of architectural services and has completed more than 500 projects worldwide. These have included pharmaceutical and biomedical research labs, medical centers, office/administrative buildings, conference centers and schools.  Project scale ranges from tenant improvement/renovation to complete buildings and campuses. Offices are located in Menlo Park and San Diego, CA; and Tokyo.

Return to: 2010 News Releases