Balancing Functional Needs With Future Flexibility

James Goblirsch, HGA Architects and Engineers
Eli Griggs, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Research Building 2 is envisioned to be the cornerstone of the University of Kentucky's research programs of the future, pulling together cross-disciplinary teams that support the University's commitment to attack some of the most challenging health issues that plague the State. This facility will support grant-funded research, providing attractive spaces to recruit and retain world-class researchers in an array of disciplines including biomedical, psychology, agriculture, arts and sciences, and engineering. It will include flexible, open experimental and computational labs, core support spaces including a vivarium and imaging center, and inviting indoor and outdoor public spaces that serve the greater campus.

Such a prestigious facility has high demands in design, not only to create attractive and functional environments, but to provide comfortable spaces that are enhanced with sustainable concepts. Our presenters will explore how several unique project challenges were transformed into sustainable features including: bridging over extensive karst formations to utilize a previously unbuildable site, using stormwater management systems to create a significant public greenspace, and using evaporative cooling to increase the free cooling from a high efficiency run around system.

Beyond the expected challenges in designing a building of this nature, our presenters will explore how the innovative "neighborhood" lab concept was applied to both experimental wet labs and computational dry labs. This concept supports varied size research teams, encourages collaboration amongst teams, and provides access to daylight and views across the building floorplate. The presentation will also discuss strategies employed to facilitate future build-out of shell spaces with minimum disruption to ongoing research activities.

To contribute to this discussion, we will have a THIRD PRESENTER:Scott Foster has spent his 17 year career designing high performance laboratories. As a principal at AEI, he is a market leader in their science and technology practice area with a dedication to achieving optimal energy and water savings for advanced research buildings. He is a graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Engineering.

Learning Objectives

  • Planning for future tenant fit-out and user turnover in an active research environment.
  • Utilizing sustainable design strategies to solve major campus challenges (land utilization, stormwater management and energy use).
  • Implementing an evaporative cooling system that will conserve significant energy, well above the required ASHRAE and LEED thresholds.
  • Application of the neighborhood lab concept to enhance both experimental and computational research labs.


Jim Goblirsch has focused much of his past 25 years on creating university and college teaching and research facilities. As a principal at HGA, he is a leader in their national science and technology practice with a specific interest in planning and programming for the medical sciences. He received a Bachelor of Architecture from University of Notre Dame, holds a NCARB certification and is a LEED accredited professional.

Eli Griggs has focused on laboratory construction and containment for the past 14 years. He has successfully completed research facilities varying from BSL-1 to BSL-3 Enhanced research labs, at the higher education, State, and Federal levels. Eli is one of Whiting-Turner's preeminent lab containment experts and holds a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Kentucky.


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