Selected Highlights of the Labs21 2010 Annual Conference


Using Design-Build and a Hybrid Integrated Practice Approach to Create a High-Performance Sustainable Laboratory: A Case Study of the Cardiovascular Research Building at the University of California, San Francisco

Irene Monis, AIA, LEED AP, SmithGroup Inc.
Peter Pobjoy, P.E., LEED AP, Southland Industries



The Cardiovascular Research Building (CVRB), located in the Mission Bay campus of the University of California at San Francisco, will be a state-of-the-art 230,000-square-foot (SF) biomedical research facility devoted to the study of cardiovascular disease. To facilitate interaction between research and practice, a cardiovascular outpatient clinic is located within the facility. The integration of outpatient care and clinical research under one roof will enhance clinical and translational research opportunities.

The building's research program provides open laboratory space for 48 principal investigators with flexible support, private offices, and conference areas. The facility houses a 35,000 SF vivarium, which includes barrier, non barrier, and cage sterilization areas.

Cardiovascular Research Building
Cardiovascular Research Building

The layout of the floor plates, with interaction areas centrally located between laboratories and offices, promotes two important goals: collaboration and interaction. The office areas are tied vertically by an open stair that facilitates communication between levels and interaction between scientists. The floor plates minimize the use of rated corridors in order to maximize efficiency ratios. Outdoor spaces will include a landscaped courtyard and an extensive green roof planted with native grasses.

Hybrid Integrated Project Delivery Process

The CVRB was developed using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and a hybrid Integrand Practice Delivery (IPD) approach. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) scope is design build, as is the exterior skin of the building. Our project team used IPD and Lean construction principles to help manage design quality, project cost, and schedule. The general contractor and major subcontractors came on board during early design and were chosen by a best value selection process. The IPD approach promotes an integrated team structure that facilitates collaboration in project execution.

An architectural, structural, and MEP model of the building was created using REVIT and 3D AutoCAD software. The model is shared by all major subcontractors and resides in a common server located in the jobsite trailer. BIM allowed creating an accurate and detailed virtual model of the building, which we used to test and evaluate alternative tridimensional design scenarios. During the construction phase, major subcontractors extracted information from the BIM model to generate prefabricated assemblies. Such is the case for the laboratory mechanical and plumbing systems at CVRB, which were fabricated directly from information obtained from the BIM model. This seamless translation from 3D modeling to fabrication resulted in reduced fabrication waste, higher field productivity, and smaller crew sizes for onsite assembly. The general contractor was able to add the 4D component to the BIM model by linking the construction schedule to the BIM model. Once the building is operational, the owner will use BIM to manage the facility's operations. 

In line with IPD principles, the entire CVRB core team (architects, owner, general contractors, construction managers, and major subcontractors) resides in the "Big Room," a 10,000 SF trailer located near the construction site. The "Big Room" concept encourages collaboration, trust, and transparency. A common workspace allows key team members to draw on each other's expertise and contributions while fostering a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. Working just one block away from the construction site expedites the decision-making process and ensures that field conflicts will not negatively impact the construction schedule. CVRB we will be delivered to the owner 10 weeks ahead of schedule.

One of the most important goals of the IPD team was to create a highly sustainable facility by incorporating green design and Labs21 Environmental Performance Criteria strategies. IPD principles helped to guide the sustainability process; the owner, architect, general contractor, and major subcontractors worked together to establish sustainability goals. Early in the design phase the team sought input from the Labs21 Program, with members of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories' (LBNL) Energy Group attending two design charrettes. During these meetings, the IPD team identified the most appropriate sustainability and energy efficiency strategies for the project. The design incorporates right-sizing of laboratory equipment loads, risk management of air effluents, fume hood commissioning, and extensive energy efficiency strategies.


Irene Monis is a principal with the San Francisco office of SmithGroup. An architect and a sustainability expert with over 20 years of experience, Ms. Monis specializes in the design and construction of science and technology facilities. Her expertise involves projects on university and institutional campuses with a focus on green design, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®), and Labs21. She has extensive experience leading LEED-certified projects and has presented at industry conferences on topics ranging from sustainability to science and technology design.

As a sustainability leader at SmithGroup, Ms. Monis has conducted LEED training seminars and has served as a sustainability advisor for the company at large. Through her laboratory design experience, Ms. Monis has been an active participant in the Labs21 Program.

Examples of her work include the Molecular Foundry, a LEED Gold–certified nanotechnology facility at LBNL that is featured as a Labs21 Case Study (1.4 MB, 8 pp), and the CVRB at UCSF, which is on track to attain LEED Gold certification under Ms. Monis' leadership.

Peter Pobjoy is a senior vice president and chief of design with Southland Industries. He is responsible for the growth and direction of Southland's engineering resources in addition to leading the conceptual design on large and complex projects, including the CVRB at the University of California, San Francisco. His experience includes the design of acute care hospitals, research laboratories, mission-critical facilities, institutional buildings, and central utility plants. Mr. Pobjoy brings innovation to all aspects of the design focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability.

Mr. Pobjoy graduated from Trinity College Dublin with degrees in both mathematics and mechanical engineering. He is a registered mechanical engineer in the State of California and a LEED Accredited Professional. He is an active member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).