Sustainable Performance Through Innovative Design: The New Tri-Services Laboratory in Albuquerque—A Laboratory Trifecta of the Future

Ron Burstein, Studio Southwest Architects
Thomas Thomsen, Jaynes Corporation
Stephen Black, J.E. Dunn Construction

This presentation will showcase the State of New Mexico's new $86-million, 190,000-square-foot Tri-Services Laboratory (NMTSL). This unique multidisciplinary facility is located adjacent to the University of New Mexico Health Services Campus in Albuquerque. When completed in May 2010, NMTSL will be among the top public health laboratories of its kind in the United States.

The five-story building is targeting LEED® Silver certification and will accommodate three state agencies: New Mexico Department of Health Scientific Laboratory Division, New Mexico Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Services, and the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigator. These three agencies are charged with providing specialized and capable response to public health and safety emergencies. The building also incorporates 2,600 square feet of training space for staff, forensic pathology fellows, and law-enforcement personnel. The three agencies housed in the facility will occupy adjacent spaces and share common areas and utilities for increased sustainability and coordination.

NMTSL will include three different types of bio-safety laboratory level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory suites: veterinary medicine, human autopsy, and biological research. The human autopsy suite might be one of the largest built to date. BSL-3 suites call for high containment protocols to handle potentially lethal agents. When completed, the building will include specialty laboratory equipment such as high-performance fume hoods, bio-safety cabinets, autoclaves, MRIs, CTs, mass spectroscopy, laboratory casework, controlled-environment rooms, morgue and autopsy equipment, evidence-drying cabinets, and a carcass-processing system. The design and construction team for NMTSL utilized a detailed value engineering process from design through the early stages of construction to minimize cost increase and control the budget. Building Information Modeling (BIM) was extensively used to coordinate the construction process, minimize installation conflicts and save time and money.

This presentation reflects the following aspects of the Labs21 Approach:

  • Energy-efficient design and reduced costs through selection and design.
  • Minimized environmental impacts through stack and intake design, energy efficiency, LEED certification, and the additional energy savings requirements beyond LEED that are mandated by the state of New Mexico for new construction of this type.

This facility might be available for public tours upon completion subject to state approval.


Stephen Black, LEED AP, is a senior project manager and senior MEP coordinator for the life sciences division of J.E. Dunn Construction in Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Black holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Tulsa and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City. Mr. Black's focus is on design; planning; cost estimating; construction; and commissioning of hospital, life science, laboratory, pharmaceutical, chemical, and environmental facilities. Specialty areas include health care, research laboratories, vivariums, biotech and pharma equipment, BSL2, BSL3, classified clean suites, environmental rooms, high purity systems, cGMP manufacturing, HVAC, and central utility systems. Mr. Black is a member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers and a past member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Ron Burstein is a principal and architect with Studio Southwest Architects Inc. and holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of New Mexico. Mr. Burstein has extensive experience managing complex projects. Over the last 20 years, these projects have included NMTSL; several occupancy phase projects for Sandia National Laboratories; a veterinary laboratory at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; clean room facilities for the GE Aircraft Engine plant in Albuquerque and the Intel fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona; and several projects for the Corps of Engineers. NMTSL incorporates three BSL-3 suites, one for each agency that will be housed in the building. The largest of these suites, for the Office of the Medical Investigator, might be the first of its kind. Mr. Burstein has been active with many professional and community-based organizations and has been president of both the local AIA and CSI chapters.