The Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan is designed to be a collaboration hub for the disciplines of genetics, physiology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering. The 235,000-sf building transforms an under-developed area of the campus and helps to connect the University's medical center with other science programs located in the center of the campus.
The previously under-utilized area also includes a 100,000-sf Commons Building, a 140,000-sf Undergraduate Sciences Building, a 1,000-car parking garage, and a pedestrian bridge connecting the complex to the medical center. A 470,000-sf Biomedical Sciences Research Building is currently under construction across the street. Underneath the parking garage is a one million-gallon water detention basin designed to alleviate much of the storm water runoff from areas that suffered from significant flooding.
The $89-million Institute houses a vivarium on the first level, mechanical space takes up the entire second level, and the third level provides access to the main entrance and the pedestrian walkway. Levels four through six are devoted to research. The molecular and cellular biology spaces are very open labs with few walls and mostly fixed, with some moveable casework. The chemistry spaces have more walls and a different office arrangement with more fixed casework. General floor-to-floor heights are 16 feet, except in the vivarium, which is 20 feet. The interstitial space is a fully walkable deck. The vivarium also contains a BSL-2 containment space, 8,500 rodent cage capacity (housing approximately 40,000 mice), aquatics, and a behavioral testing suite. The transgenic/barrier facility in the vivarium contains an automatic watering and bottle filling system and an automatic bedding waste disposal system.
The lab modules are 10' 8" x 33'. The average dedicated bench length per bench position is 11' 6". There are 8 ½ bench positions available for the 30 primary investigators house in the Institute. Each PI occupies approximately 2,867 nsf (lab-lab support and office) depending on the amount of research space needed. The spaces swell or shrink depending on the amount of research a PI is conducting. Growing research programs receive more space, while research programs generating less revenue occupy less space. Lab support space is available in 114 sf or 228 sf areas. While there are some undergraduate students in the building, the main focus of the occupants is research. Access to the labs is by card key only.
Interaction spaces are designed to give people informal areas for conversation and collaboration. Other common spaces include kitchen and break areas. Casual meeting spaces contain wired and wireless access, marker boards, tack boards, and comfortable seating. The main corridors of each level contain large wooden lockers to hold a researcher’s coat and bag, keeping these items out of the lab. The ghost corridors in the labs contain moveable lab carts, marker boards, and centrally located trash units.
The mechanical exhaust system is located at the perimeter of the roof. Wind studies showed that this placement prevents air entrainment into the make air systems. The exposed equipment maintains the original industrial feel of the area and aligns with the power plant located nearby.