What Makes A Building Run?

Janelia Farm In The Rain

Camera: Fuji X-T1
Exposure: 4.5 seconds
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 200

What makes Janelia Farm truly special is the people and the science that those people are engaged in.  That said, the resources are pretty amazing and all those people and resources are housed in a spectacular building that I had the privilege of getting a behind the scenes of sorts tour to see some of the infrastructure that one really does not think about when you go about your everyday tasks.  A typical scientist comes to work/the lab in the morning, checks the email, gets coffee and sets about to work either in the lab doing experiments or sitting in their office writing manuscripts and grants. The thought that goes into the science can be all consuming which leaves little consideration for some of the infrastructure that provides the electricity, Internet, water and purified water, HVAC, oxygen supply or vacuum for lab work and sewer amongst other things.

Of course, this is the kind of day that millions around the world have with the exception of the lab work part of things.  And almost every one of those people give very little consideration for the infrastructure required to run the buildings that they live and work in.


Janelia Farm In The Rain At Night

Camera: Fuji X-T1
Exposure: 2.3 seconds
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 200

Walking the grounds of Janelia, this temple of science, one might be forgiven for overlooking the hidden infrastructure that makes life and science in the building possible.  The things that attract attention are the structural glass, the play of light through the architecture and the beautiful grounds that surround the building.  What follows then, is a brief insight into what makes a building like Janelia tick.  This photoessay was made possible through the efforts of both Rob Svirskas and one of the building watch manager, “Paul” who was tremendously professional and went above and beyond in educating and walking us through last night until the wee hours (2 am).


Compute resources






High Voltage


Master Control


Hot room






Condensate and steam






Air Handlers



15 Replies to “What Makes A Building Run?”

    1. Hey Ken,

      Nice to hear from you and I wish we had time to talk when I was there. I did not pick that row for any other reason than it was a clean photographic line, uninterrupted by anything else around it. Is there something else to know about this line of racks?

      1. Not particularly; it’s just kind of messy, that’s all!

        I suppose it is one of the last fairly complete rows in there without a lot of gaps in between the racks.

        1. Heh, I appreciate that. I was looking for lines and such rather than pretty racks. Though I do have to say, your server room is much cleaner than ours for our connectomics efforts. Though we only have two racks.

    1. Yeah, I think that is what they said. Though I cannot remember for sure. You’ll have to ask one of the building supers or watch managers for the specifics on the tech. Pretty amazing numbers though.

    2. Those are the condenser water pumps for the chillers. The cooling towers are almost a 1/4 of a mile away at the other end of the building.

  1. I thought those were the pumps for circulating cooling water between the chillers and cooling towers, which you also had a picture of. I used to wonder around in there when Janelia just opened… Nice pictures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *