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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, June 2011
WEB Exclusive story

Healthy Designs
Lead to Healthy Niche

The Pathogens Research Facility at the University of Florida achieved LEED Gold status.

An Omaha-based design firm specializes in sustainable healthcare buildings.


ealthcare facilities continue to achieve new standards in sustainability. One of the latest to achieve LEED Gold status is the new Pathogens Research Facility (PRF) at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In fact, the facility, designed by Omaha-based HDR Architecture, barely missed achieving LEED Platinum status.

The 80,000-sq.-ft. (7,432-sq.-m.) building, which opened in early 2010, houses the Emerging Pathogens Institute, which conducts research on emerging diseases in Florida and across the globe. Ground was broken for the facility in late February 2008.

The building includes 28 biological safety level-2 and -3 labs; three bio-safety level-3 rooftop greenhouses; a bioinformatics wing; 46 offices for faculty investigators; more than 100 carrels for students and postdoctoral fellows; and an 80-person seminar room.

The building's design fosters collaboration among the more than 150 microbiologists, epidemiologists, computer modelers, pathologists, geographers, statisticians, ecologists, entomologists and molecular geneticists who comprise the institute.

Both HDR and the University of Florida say they have a long-standing commitment to sustainability. In 1994, HDR was the first architecture firm to become a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, and has been involved with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System since its inception in 1995. The University of Florida created an Office of Sustainability in 2006, with the mission to improve environmental sustainability on campus. The goal is to produce zero waste by 2015, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

Going For It

The university set an initial goal of LEED Silver, but encouraged the designers to "go for gold" when it became apparent that the university's infrastructure would provide additional sustainable advantages. For example, all essential amenities are located within walking distance of the PRF, and the building required no additional parking.

Sustainable design features include the provision of abundant natural light, including the highly unusual amenity of daylight within a Bio-Safety Level 3 laboratory. The windows are angled to face north for incidental day-lighting while preventing direct western light that would interfere with research. The facility features sophisticated lighting and ventilation controls for energy reduction. Water reclamation is employed throughout with significant use of gray water. Heat recovery from the office and laboratory spaces is accomplished through enthalpy wheels, rotary air-to-air heat exchangers.

"It is a beautiful facility well designed to maximize collaboration among investigators and facilitate formation of interdisciplinary research teams," EPI Director Dr. Glenn Morris said during the building's dedication ceremonies. "Our projects are like spokes on a wheel, radiating across the globe, but the building is our central hub. In addition to our work in Florida, we have active research collaborations in 32 countries."

HDR has been ranked the No. 1 healthcare design firm in Modern Healthcare's 2011 Construction & Design Survey for eight consecutive years and 15 times since the survey began 30 years ago. HDR designed more than 27.6 million sq. ft. (2,508,300 sq. m.) of healthcare space with $6.6 billion in completed construction projects in 2010.

One of HDR's latest healthcare projects is a $125-million six-story patient tower at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, Wash. The new facility adds 190,000 sq. ft. (17,651 sq. m.) and 176 patient rooms to the existing Central Washington Hospital.

HDR Architecture is also the design team for a new 2.5-million-sq.-ft. (232-250-sq.-m.) healthcare campus for Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas. The campus is currently the largest hospital construction project in the U.S. The Parkland campus is located within the University of Texas Southwestern (UTSW) Medical District and serves as a teaching hospital for the UTSW School of Medicine.

The facility will be adaptable and capable of meeting the future medical needs of the community, in addition to utilizing green building methods and energy sources. The $1.27-billion project includes an 862-bed hospital, outpatient clinics, office center and parking.

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