The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSC-H) replaced its vivarium, which was flooded by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, with a new six-story building adjacent to the existing medical school. Limestone-colored precast and tinted glass were chosen to match the existing limestone-clad building. Faculty and students moving between the medical school ASSOCIATED FIRMLake Flato ArchitectsCOST PER SQ FT$310.00FEATURED IN2008 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYLaboratories new building are greeted by a bamboo garden with zinc connectors.
The Center for Laboratory Animal Medicine and Care is housed on the top two floors. It provides housing for large and small animals, a surgery suite and neurobiology research labs. Modular rooms allow flexible layouts for state-of-the-art equipment and varied usage. The cage wash, a windowless space in most animal-care facilities, is situated on the exterior wall providing naturally lighted views. Maintenance is achieved easily through an interstitial catwalk above the top two floors, which prevents contamination of the vivarium environment.
The 22-foot by 32-foot lab modules provide flexibility in configuration for four specific focus groups: structural biology, neurobiology, molecular biology and functional genomics. Combinations of fixed, movable and mobile furnishings create an ever-evolving lab environment. By using convenient overhead service panels with quick connections, the medical school’s reconfiguration options are limited only by its imagination.
The design intent was to provide researchers as much natural light as possible. The wet labs are situated on the north and south perimeter walls, lined with large windows that allow natural light to brighten the labs and offices. Clerestory windows lining the corridor walls and windows further illuminate interior spaces.
In order to encourage interaction among investigators, each floor has an intimate lobby space with lounge seating. The space is accented with photo displays of enlarged microscopic images created by faculty and graduate students.
Other areas that encourage interaction are the coffee bars on each floor. Lower ceilings and varied lighting accentuate the space. Table and chair seating, as well as marker and tack boards, allow this area to serve as alternative meeting space.