NextEnergy was created to advance the understanding, research, development and commercialization of alternative energy technologies, driving both innovation and economic growth in the state of Michigan and nationwide. To support this mission, the nonprofit organization decided to construct a research center that would serve as a living lab for advanced energy and transportation technology development, allowing companies, universities and municipal agencies to collaborate and innovate in a high-tech and secure environment.
We worked closely with NextEnergy to understand their vision of a facility that would be an epicenter of entrepreneurial activity in Midtown Detroit, providing state-of-the-art collaboration, research and demonstration spaces to help accelerate the commercialization of tomorrow’s energy technologies.
Located within Wayne State University’s Research and Business Technology Park, the 45,000-square-foot alternative energy center houses laboratory space, product demonstration facilities, an auditorium, office space, flexible conference rooms, and a display and exhibition area. Given the center’s importance as a catalyst of economic development in the region, our design seeks to achieve maximum visibility to draw public interest while simultaneously offering protection and controlled access to confidential product testing areas.
Also included on the campus is a 5,600-square-foot power generation pavilion, which houses a microgrid. The microgrid, fueled by hydrogen, natural gas and sunlight, uses several emerging on-site energy technologies, including fuel cells, internal and external combustion engines, miniturbine technology and photovoltaic cells. The microgrid includes underground electrical and thermal distribution systems to provide electricity, heating and air conditioning to the adjacent NextEnergy facility.
Collaborating with NextEnergy, we designed a high-performing facility that delivers on their mission, one that serves as a convening site where global energy and transportation innovators, educators and government agents can work together to develop groundbreaking energy technologies.