Working with Dr. Ferid Murad, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine and Nobel Prize recipient, P&W Architects, LLP, designed a second research laboratory for the Institute of Molecular Medicine for heart, cardiovascular, and hypertension research for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Located on the ninth floor of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, in The Denton A. Cooley Building, the space was designed to accommodate a director with 15 scientists and a technical support staff consisting of postdoctoral fellows and students. Expected occupancy is 60 to 70 FTEs, or one person per 200 assignable square feet of laboratory space. Additional support areas include administrative and researcher offices, two large conference rooms, and support staff space.

Since flexibility was a given, the design incorporated the combined use of fixed and modular/mobile benches, with utilities being supplied from overhead surface-mounted raceways. This approach to laboratory design allows maximum flexibility to support the ever-changing programs. Office spaces are subdivided through the use of ceiling-high demountable partitions, to allow for rapid office reconfigurations without the dirt, dust, and delays associated with normal drywall construction. Selecting and using sustainable materials, where appropriate, were also part of the overall planning concept.

This approach to laboratory design allows the required MEP infrastructure to be installed up front while retaining the maximum flexibility to adjust/modify/change the research space literally over a weekend, with little disruption to ongoing research. This is a tremendous plus for any researcher and client.

As we continue to move forward in our endeavors, we are constantly reminded that the only constant in life is change. And that change is happening at a rapidly increasing pace.

Project category: New construction (completed February 2003)

Chief administrator: James T. Willerson, MD, UT-Houston President, (713) 500-3641

Firm: P&W Architects, LLP, (832) 554-1130

Design team: Victor V. Gelsomino, Jr., AIA, Partner; Gerardo Manzanares, Project Designer (P&W Architects, LLP); Stephan Voss (Walter P. Moore & Associates); Kevin Wolfford, CIPE, Project Manager; Larry Gray, PE (Smith Seckman Reid, Inc.)

Photography: ©2002 Carl Mayfield

Total building area (GSF): 34,200

Construction cost/sq. ft.: $220

Total cost (excluding land): $7,500,000