Virginia Tech is planning to break ground in spring of 2024 on a $292 million engineering building located in the North Academic District in Blacksburg. Replacing an existing structure, Mitchell Hall will act as a centralized hub for several departments including mechanical, chemical, aerospace, and ocean engineering. The five-story, 285,500-gsf development was designed by Perkins&Will to foster experiential learning with student collaboration spaces on every level.
Repurposing non-research facilities to house specialized life sciences and therapeutics labs is a growing trend sparked by real estate inventory and the fiscal practicality of renovation rather than new construction. The vacancy rate throughout the United States for lab space in the fourth quarter of 2022 was 6 percent versus 19.5 percent for office space, according to the Jones Lang LaSalle real estate transparency index. The vacancy rates for 2021 were less than 4 percent for labs and approximately 15 percent for offices.
Life science laboratories are increasingly embracing the idea of moving into high-rise settings in city centers, filling space in new construction, or renovating office space left vacant, in part, by the many companies opting to continue to work from home following the pandemic. High-rise laboratories in urban settings offer many advantages related to recruiting top talent, the ease of city amenities, and abundant transportation options, says Matthew Decker, AIA, architect for CRB in Plymouth Meeting, Penn. But they also pose challenges, including strict building codes for hazardous materials, and infrastructure concerns that can affect placement of lab equipment, HVAC systems, and utilities.
The Sixth Edition of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) manual emphasizes the importance of risk assessment and management, communication among all stakeholders, comprehensive procedures to report accidents and exposures, and a new focus on biocontainment of pathogens affecting agricultural animals. First published in 1984, the BMBL still serves as the cornerstone of biosafety practices for the safe conduct of research throughout the world.
The Olivia Business Centre was awarded the highest WELL Health-Safety Rating in March of 2021 by the International WELL Building Institute. Located in Gdańsk, Poland, the eight-building corporate park offers 2.5 million sf of world-class office space and accommodates over 200 companies. Achieving 25 out of 25 available points in all WELL Health-Safety categories, the complex leverages advanced infrastructure to continue operations safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Features include:
Alexandria Real Estate Equities Achieves World's First WELL Health-Safety Rating for Laboratory Space
Alexandria Real Estate Equities has attained the world's first WELL Health-Safety Rating for laboratory space at Alexandria LaunchLabs in New York City. Augmenting the center’s existing WELL certification for building design, the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facilities Operations and Management includes further measures to protect the health of tenants, employees, visitors, and service personnel. Protocols at Alexandria LaunchLabs include:
The unprecedented health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is driving many institutions to increase investment in new biocontainment facilities or rapidly pivot to upgrade and repurpose existing containment spaces in an urgent attempt to respond to the crisis. Hundreds of organizations nationwide began applying for grants after the National Institutes for Health (NIH) received $3.6 billion in funding dedicated to COVID-19 research as part of an emergency stimulus bill passed earlier this year. The NIH now has until 2024 to release the funds. Additionally, private donors, non-governmental organizations, and other entities worldwide are providing billions in funding for development of testing and vaccine programs. This surge of financing is expected to fuel a growth in the creation of new biocontainment spaces in the near future and long term. Since designing, building, and commissioning new biocontainment labs is an expensive and time-consuming process, some institutions are electing to upgrade existing BSL-2 facilities to make them BSL-3, while others are choosing to move existing research programs to make room for new pandemic-related initiatives.
Marmon Plumbing & Refrigeration has partnered with Micron Pure, a subsidiary of Hecto Group, to create the CerroZone™ system for the mitigation of airborne SARS-CoV-2. The continuous indoor air purification system, which has been tested at the University of Missouri's Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research, reduces 99 percent of live SARS-CoV-2 in a single pass in under 30 seconds.
Empire State Realty Trust achieved the WELL Health-Safety Rating for its greater New York commercial properties in September of 2022. Representing 10.1 million rentable square feet, the portfolio comprises 14 office complexes, including the Empire State Building, and six stand-alone retail venues.
Promoting confidence in the safe reoccupancy of facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management measures five categories:
The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Toronto has partnered with leading infectious disease researchers and industry experts to create the HVAC Advisory Council. Aligned with BOMA Toronto’s Return to Work Committee, the task force will leverage insights on air quality, infection controls, and HVAC systems to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in commercial buildings.
JAC Construction and its sister company Level 3 Design Group are partnering with Industrial Commercial Systems and Ultraviolet Devices (UVDI) to bring an advanced UV-C air disinfection solution to commercial and hospitality markets. The program, StayProtected, is a comprehensive approach that combines leading technology with holistic methods to help prevent the airborne transmission of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
The COVID Consultants℠ and Better Efficiency Solutions & Technologies LLC (BEST) launched the COVIDefender™ Student Housing Portal in August 2020. Offering tools, guidance, and access to crucial information, the online service enables students and off-campus housing authorities to:
The University of North Dakota is planning to break ground in fall of 2020 on the $70 million Nistler College of Business and Public Administration in Grand Forks. Designed by JLG Architects, the four-story, 111,000-sf facility will offer highly flexible learning environments capable of accommodating a wide range of instructional modalities. Technology-enabled classrooms will support a combination of online and in-person instruction, with educational spaces right-sized for appropriate density metrics.
Songbird Life Science has launched a COVID-19 testing and health-protection service for facilities. Promoting public confidence in the occupancy of shared spaces, the company offers rapid onsite testing that provides results in minutes.
Fitwel launched its Viral Response module in July of 2020. The platform provides annual, third-party building certification of policies and practices informed by the latest public health research on mitigating the spread of infectious diseases. Fitwel, a healthy building certification system operated by The Center for Active Design, was originally created by the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.