Earlier this summer, William McDonough + Partners and HITT Contracting officially opened Co|Lab, an innovative research space in Falls Church that has received LEED Platinum certification for its high-performance design. It is also the first cross-laminated timber structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a beacon for sustainable design, the impressive building incorporates a wide swath of green features — such as Cradle-to-Cradle materials and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels — and is expected to achieve Zero Energy Certification.

angled view of white building with green wall

Located close to HITT’s headquarters in northern Virginia, the 8,650-square-foot Co|Lab serves as a research and testing center for emerging materials and technology. In addition to a double-height lab workspace that offers room for full-scale spatial and building “mockups,” the building includes flexible meeting and conference spaces, all of which are oriented for maximum access to natural light. The layout is organized around the workspace to encourage engagement between clients and team members through direct observation and hands-on interaction.

Related: Interview with green architect and Cradle-to-Cradle founder William McDonough

wood and metal interior of lab building
cream chairs beside a tall window

Per William McDonough + Partner’s commitment to circular economy principles, Co|Lab is constructed with high-value mass timber elements that can be disassembled and reused or recycled if needed. The use of mass timber also reduces the building’s carbon footprint and aids occupant well-being. Cradle-to-Cradle, Health Product Declaration, Forest Stewardship Council and Declare products were also used to promote human and environmental health.

blue chairs in a lounge area
gray sofas on outdoor balcony

All of Co|Lab’s energy consumption will be offset by a rooftop solar array to ensure zero-energy consumption. “We designed HITT’s Co|Lab based on our concept of building like a tree,” said McDonough. “Instead of just talking about minimal environmental footprint, we talk about beneficial environmental footprint — not just minimizing negative emissions — we talk about optimizing positive emissions.” The building will also pursue Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute.

+ William McDonough + Partners

Photography by John Cole Photography via William McDonough + Partners