Spotlight: NIH

The massive Building 10 sits in the center of NIH’s Bethesda campus.

Which federal agency began in 1887 as the one-room “Laboratory of Hygiene” and has since grown to encompass 27 separate institutes and centers that occupy almost 16 million gross square feet of government-owned space and nearly 4 million rentable square feet of leased space nationwide? Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) operates from a main campus in Bethesda, Md., that consists of more than 75 buildings set on more than 300 acres. Additional facilities and scientists are based at field units and other research facilities across the country and abroad. Its mission is “to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.”

The agency invests more than $30 billion annually in medical research; President Obama’s FY2013 budget request for NIH is $30.86 billion, the same as in FY2012. Only about 10% of NIH’s budget supports research conducted by the nearly 6,000 scientists based in its own laboratories; more than 80% of its funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,000 researchers working at universities, medical schools and other research institutions in every state and around the world.

Headquarters for NIH’s Office of the Director and its institutes and centers are located on the Bethesda campus. In Montgomery County alone, the agency’s footprint totals 15.5 million square feet, including both government-owned and leased space. In addition, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) operates the Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center (FCRDC) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences main facility is located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Other laboratory facilities include the NIH Animal Center in Poolesville, Md.; the National Institute on Aging’s Gerontology Research Center and the Division of Intramural Research of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, both in Baltimore; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont., and several smaller field stations in Detroit, Phoenix, and New Iberia, La.

NIH’s five-year Strategic Facilities Plan (SFP) for FY2012–2017, which is adjusted annually, calls for the agency to control the costs of leasing administrative space by consolidating new/replacement leases and reducing average utilization rates from 190 to 160 net square feet per person, and to move research laboratories located in leased space back to government-owned space as leases expire, when possible. The NIH Lease Plan also aims to replace expiring leases with government-owned space. In addition, it attempts to consolidate small leases into larger Prospectus-level actions led by GSA, maintain current lease clusters, when possible, and promote efficient space utilization through space assignment rates and increased teleworking.

Recent Deals:

Last month, NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) signed a 15-year lease for 87,738 square feet in three buildings at the 300,071-square-foot Shady Grove Life Sciences Center in Rockville, Md. The deal expands NIH’s presence (which includes space occupied by its Chemical Genomics Center) at the four-building park to 135,000 square feet.

Earlier this year, in late April, GSA negotiated a lease renewal for NIH at 10401 Fernwood Road in Bethesda that allows its National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to shrink its footprint there from about 112,500 to about 57,600 square feet while the Center for Information Technology will increase its square footage from about 44,682 to 99,583. The lease renewal does not change the amount of space NIH leases in the building, which holds steady at 157,187 square feet.  NIAID will occupy its new 490,000 square foot building in Rockville, Md. in 2014.

Early next year, NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) will begin consolidating about 2,100 administrative staff from five different locations into the new 574,614-square-foot, built-to-suit, LEED-Silver NCI Shady Grove campus at the intersection of Key West Avenue and Medical Center Drive in Rockville.

Rendering of new NIAID facility under construction in the Twinbrook area of Rockville, MD