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IBM Research
Almaden's 20th Anniversary

Quick Facts About the Almaden Site

May 31, 2006

  • Almaden's site contains about 690 acres.
  • We cooperate in managing our site wildlife with the adjacent Santa Teresa County Park (2,500 acres) and IBM's Silicon Valley Lab, which has 1,100 acres. Activities include introducing wild turkeys and endangered burrowing owls. Volunteers monitor numerous onsite bird houses in cooperation with the Coyote Creek Riparian Station.
  • Building size: 542,000 square feet of space.
  • The Almaden building contains 557 single-person offices, 20 group offices and 155 laboratories.
  • Almaden's building was designed by MBT Associates (now called MBT Architecture), a SF-based firm specializing in buildings for science, education and art. MBT also designed IBM's nearby Silicon Valley Lab and numerous notable laboratories in the Bay Area (and elsewhere in the U.S.)
  • Green slate pavers came from China.
  • Wood paneling is yellow pine.
  • For earthquake safety, the building actually comprises seven separate structurally simple buildings -- four wings and three "Main Street" or "spine" structures. A small gap between the wings allows each to vibrate separately. Flexible couplings for water, gas and electrical conduits span the gaps. During the big 1989 earthquake, there was very little damage here, even though the epicenter was only 10 miles to our south.
  • The building's characteristic blue-green "Almaden green" color was selected to harmonize with the color of native oaks, so the building would not have a glaring 'king of the hill' appearance.
  • Lab wings are designed with window offices on the outside and labs in the interior. Ideally, a scientists labs are located just across the hall from their labs. A utility core runs through the middle of the lab wings, delivering a variety of supplies (cooling water, gases etc.) to labs in a way that permits easy rearrangements within the lab spaces without having to reroute major utility lines.
  • At the end of every long hall, there is a window. This design feature makes the hallway seem more open and pleasant; not long and walled in.
  • Located along the spine are offices and facilities that are used by the entire building population: some classrooms, meeting rooms, director's offices, staff functions, library, cafeteria, machine shop, security, shipping & receiving etc.
  • Trees in the wing courtyards are White Poplars. The grey-green boulders are serpentine, the state mineral of California, which is related to jade. Serpentine predominates the south side of the Almaden site.
  • Because the chemical composition of serpentine is unusual (high in magnesium, iron, chromium, nickel and cobalt, and low in calcium, potassium and sodium), only a few, often rare, plants are adapted to thrive in serpentine soils. A federally listed rare and endangered plant (Hamilton thistle) is found on the Almaden site. "Islands" of serpentine soils are found throughout California and are often associated with rare plants (Examples: Tiburon, Edgewood Park in San Mateo; Jasper Ridge near Stanford.)
  • Other trees planted on site include Japanese Flowering Crabapple (by the cafeteria), Coast Live Oak, Holly Oak, California Buckeye and African Sumac (along walkways to the southside parking lots).

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