Creating a Quantum Optics Specialty Lab

Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory, Harris Laboratory, Yale University


Located in Yale’s Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory (WNSL), the multi-level Harris lab houses scientists studying the quantum aspects of motion through experiments using cryogenic and room-temperature opto-mechanical equipment.

To ensure the accuracy of the experiments, BVH helped renovate the space to create an environment with extraordinary acoustical separation, vibration isolation, and thermal stability. A hierarchy of acoustical separation techniques effectively isolates the entire lab from the rest of the building, the internal labs from each other and the two-story refrigerator chamber which contain the functional specimens, from the labs.

The design team overcame several physical challenges in the space allocated for the new lab, including a two-story concrete shell that was poorly dimensioned and too expensive to demo, as well as the accommodation of some very sophisticated, expensive and unwieldy equipment.

BVH’s structural, mechanical and electrical design work included:

  • a new floor structure and lift support point
  • extended plumbing/lab support systems
  • new HVAC system
  • power branch circuit revisions
  • lighting additions and relocations
  • required Tel/Dat infrastructure


Christopher Williams Architects

Size / Cost

2,150 SF


electrical, fire protection, mechanical, plumbing, structural