We present the initial architecture and implementation of VLab, a Grid and Web-Service-based system for enabling distributed and collaborative computational chemistry and material science applications for the study of planetary materials. The requirements of VLab include job preparation and submission, job monitoring, data storage and analysis, and distributed collaboration. These components are divided into client entry (input file creation, visualization of data, task requests) and back-end services (storage, analysis, computation). Clients and services communicate through NaradaBrokering, a publish/subscribe Grid middleware system that identifies specific hardware information with topics rather than IP addresses. We describe three aspects of VLab in this paper: (1) managing user interfaces and input data with JavaBeans and Java Server Faces; (2) integrating Java Server Faces with the Java CoG Kit; and (3) designing a middleware framework that supports collaboration. To prototype our collaboration and visualization infrastructure, we have developed a service that transforms a scalar data set into its wavelet representation. General adaptors are placed between the endpoints and NaradaBrokering, which serve to isolate the clients/services from the middleware. This permits client and service development independently of potential changes to the middleware. Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.