Vivarium Imaging Labs Renovation Design

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Location: Ashburn, Virginia Square Footage: 2000 Construction Cost: 1,000,000

With a need to renovate laboratory space to accommodate highly technical research equipment and associated support utilities, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (a privately funded research institution) called on the expertise of CRB to provide full design services for this complex project. The challenge: renovate two interior labs without disrupting ongoing research.

HHMI’s mission is to “advance biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity.” Janelia Research Campus is HHMI’s pioneering research center in Ashburn, Virginia, where scientists pursue fundamental neuroscience and imaging in a uniquely innovative, collaborative atmosphere”, which requires the use of intense imaging equipment and lasers to run experiments and tests.

Working in a design-build partnership with Barton Malow, the project addressed the renovation of two imaging labs used to support vivarium work and small animal (mice, fish, insect) research. To expedite the schedule, the design was issued in multiple packages. To address the sensitivity of ongoing operations, the construction will be phased room-by-room to minimize disruption and allow for the use of one room to begin while the other is being constructed.

During the BOD phase, CRB investigated various possibilities to offer flexibility and sustainability for the design. Working with end-users and facilities staff, it was identified that spaces are often repurposed after a program or study concludes. So with flexibility in mind, CRB implemented a unique lab design that allows for support of standard research should the purpose for the space change in the future.

Elements of flexibility include plug & play equipment and a high-tech airline ceiling grid that supports hanging equipment and utilities and can be moved around the space. Additionally, zoned HVAC will accommodate changing the layout of the room without moving utilities. Ultimately, to change the space in the future, infrastructure and walls will not have to be ripped down to repurpose the space.


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