Cutting Edge Laboratory Design on an Office Budget

Alicia Pandimos Maurer, CRB
Chris Ertl, CRB

Universities, Community colleges and other public institutions are working on an increasingly shrinking budget. We in the design community need to adapt while providing our clients the best and highest quality projects working within these tight budgetary constraints. Many institutions will think that they need to sacrifice sustainability, cutting edge technology or high end design to remain within their desired monetary limits. As a group, the design community is tasked with showing by example that high performance buildings built on very tight budgets can still meet the sustainability requirements required by many states and governmental jurisdictions while providing delight and a high degree of technological advancement for the end users. The pillars of low cost, high quality laboratories are: early costing models (from planning/conception), a high degree of understanding of the complexities and tenants of sustainability, and flexibility in all aspects. Through specific project case studies the presenter will show how each of these objectives is met and applied. Bioscience 2 on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical School Campus is an 112,000 SF, four-story speculative laboratory building. It on track for LEED gold and will complete construction in July of this year. Bioscience 2 represents a unique project structure for the University as it is the first time they have come together in a public private partnership with the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority (FRA). Bioscience 2 contains a clean room suite as well as a new Bioengineering program, mass spectrometer laboratories and cord blood bank.

The second case study is for University of Nebraska Lincoln, Behlen Laboratory. This is a 20,500 GSF, three-story renovation of a 1960's era laboratory building scheduled for completion in December 2015. The vision for Behlen Lab is to recapitalize a facility that will provide flexible, multidisciplinary, economical, and yet very high quality research spaces with enhanced standardized utilities. The labs in Behlen are designed to flex from chemistry to biology and physics. In addition to these programs, the building houses one of the most powerful laser research systems on campus. Both project posed significant challenges budget, design constraints, and sustainability goals. Innovative design elements in both projects make these facilities truly sustainable labs with baseline standards that are significantly more efficient than ASHRAE 90.1. Both labs use a module system to ensure maximum efficiency and flexibility in design.

Learning Objectives

  • To understand the basics of sustainability in high performance buildings.
  • To understand the need to early costing and continuous cost analysis during the design phase from planning through construction documents.
  • To understand how flexibility affects both up front and long term costs for laboratories in allowing for multiple users and changes without costly renovation.
  • To understand how to grasp the 'low hanging' fruit of sustainability and use 'out of the box' solutions to allow for the greatest bang for the sustainability buck to allow for lowest first costs and great return on investment for owners.


Ms. Pandimos Maurer is an architect with more than 14 years of experience in architectural design and lab planning. Her specialty is lab planning with a focus on sustainability and flexibility. Ms. Pandimos Maurer has experience in both Greenfield lab design and retrofit/renovations. She believes that people and science inspire architecture and creativity flows from open exchange of ideas in planning and design. Ms. Pandimos Maurer received Rocky Mountain Region ENR's Top 20 under 40 Award in 2014.

Chris Ertl is an architect who brings 19 years of experience in the programming, planning and design of research facilities nationwide. A LEED AP and charter member of I2SL's Heart of America chapter, Mr. Ertl has dedicated his career to sustainable lab design and its impact on human occupants and building systems. His projects demonstrate the application of sound planning principles in the creation of collaborative research environments by implementing a multidisciplinary design process utilizing BIM.


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