Designing Sustainable Environments to Grow Innovative Health Sciences Programs for George Washington University

Punit Jain, CannonDesign

George Washington University's Research Center for the Neglected Diseases of Poverty is developed to provide a centrally located, consolidated research complex for translational research into the development of new vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for both neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in developing countries, and a unique group of neglected infections of poverty (NIoPs) present in poor communities in the United States.

This newly created research center occupies approximately 35,000 gsf of LEED Gold certified fit out space on the fifth and sixth floors of the Ross Hall Research Center, a circa 1973 facility on the university's main campus in DC's Foggy Bottom neighborhood, directly adjacent to the medical center and the School of Public Health. The space includes energy efficient lighting with an Energy Star rating according to guidelines outlined by the EPA. Additionally, 100 percent of the lighting fixtures including task lighting have occupancy sensors for responsible use of electricity and the HVAC Systems are optimized for energy efficiency. Flexible casework with utilities distributed from the ceiling allows easy interchangeability of furniture and equipment. Chilled beams are used to reduce operational energy use while heat generating equipment and chemical fume hoods are isolated from the main open lab environment. The project is flexible, adaptable, sustainable, and an impressive renovation effort.

In addition to flexible open lab space, the facility incorporates a variety of required research support functions, including tissue culture, procedure, life cycle, PCR, radioactive chemical, ELISA, buffer prep, fermentation, and protein purification. Lab support includes various equipment rooms, darkrooms, controlled environment rooms, autoclave/glass wash, and hazardous waste staging areas. Material and personnel circulation is clearly defined and clean and dirty areas are separated from each other. New faculty and postdoctoral office space is also provided with associated administrative support space, including documentation and conferencing facilities. Office functions and circulation are configured to encourage informal interaction within an engaging and collaborative work environment. The space is equipped with six InFocus Mondopads - wall-sized tablet PCs with 55-inch LCD touch screens, digital interactive whiteboards and video conferencing capabilities. The screens will play a major role in the lab's international work. The project construction was funded by $15 Million NIH Grant awarded to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and meets the requirements of the NIH DRM.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the design objectives of a university wanting to expand their health science programming.
  • Learn how to design for a complex renovation and fit-out science project in a functioning building.
  • Understand NIH design requirements
  • Learn innovative sustainable strategies employed to achieve LEED Gold certification for a renovation project within a large multistory building


A LEED Fellow and leader in the science, technology and sustainability practices, Punit Jain brings extensive experience in the integration of systems, spaces and experiences for higher education and federal clients. Mr. Jain serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and the advisory board of SEFA and is the recipient of the I2SL Go Beyond Award.


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