Recently, Associate Editor Chris Gaerig had a chance to speak with Kirk Warden, AIA, senior vice-president and partner at Clayco, Inc., which built the Edward A Doisy Research Center at St. Louis University (SLU) in St. Louis, Missouri. In an online exclusive that can be found on the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Web site, Warden discusses the building’s design, it’s relevance to the SLU campus, and security and wayfinding. In this expanded Q&A, Warden discusses the HVAC requirements of such a building, as well as the construction issues and adjustments that needed to be made because of grant funding.
Chris Gaerig: Could you tell me a little bit about the basics of the building: When was it completed? What is it used for? What role did you play in the design and construction of it?
Kirk Warden, AIA: The building was completed September 11, 2007. It’s approximately 200,000 square feet. It was a project that started in June of 2005. It was designed by Cannon Design who is an international architect. They’re a design firm that we’ve done several projects with; some in a design-build partnership, and some where we were the construction-manager-at-risk, but yet brought on early enough in the design where we were involved with them as the design was finished. This particular project, they designed the project, but we had design-build mechanical and electrical contractors that worked with their engineers in a collaborative effort.
Essentially, the building is a research lab. Once you get above the main, entry-level floor, each floor is somewhat repetitive in the nature of how it’s laid out, however, each floor and each of the individual scientists that occupy their particular floor or part of a floor, have very specific requirements for their workspace.
The building is a teardrop shape. Along the north wall are these offices. In the center of the teardrop are typically support spaces. Those support spaces might be rooms for specific equipment—refrigerators, freezers, coolers, sometimes there are spaces in there that are very detailed cleaning labs—that are all intended to support the labs that essentially occur along the bottom of the teardrop which faces east and the south side of the teardrop, which are labs that are laid out in a very modular order.
Gaerig: Did you encounter any complications during the construction of the facility?
Warden: One of the ways universities fund their research is through the NIH [National Institutes of Health]. These universities apply for NIH grants for a specific research group or to do a certain thing. This particular project had essentially two full floors of research labs that are called NIH labs. They were funded, in part, by the NIH. When you have that, you automatically enter into a process that involves the federal government and the NIH to review and approve the design of those labs and sometimes that means you have to make modifications to the design in order to accommodate certain things that the NIH requires. Some of those things are guidelines so you have to walk that narrow line as to what’s a guideline and what’s a requirement. You have to submit your documents and review them, you get comments. It’s a cycle that you go through to finally get approved NIH documents. The NIH grant was given to us sometime in October of 2005. We didn’t really apply the package for the NIH floors until November of 2005, possibly December. By the time the NIH approved it, it was the summer of 2006, I think July of 2006. It’s a long process.
At the same time, we were building this building while that was taking place. It a little bit hectic to get all of that taken care of while the project was under construction. It did force us, from a construction standpoint, to delay certain things or to resequence certain construction events. It was less efficient, but eventually, we got all of the NIH work approved and constructed.