BioCenter at Southwestern Medical District
The BioCenter at Southwestern Medical District is a project of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and supports the technology transfer process efforts of the Office of Technology Development. Ultimately this four-phase project will comprise 440,000 square feet of sustainably designed flexible wet or dry laboratory and office space. Developed on a brownfield site, the BioCenter is planned to have six structures, including four incubation buildings and two parking structures.
The initial phase includes a 110,000-square-foot building which provides lease space for start-up ventures to serve the spectrum of the biotechnology and bio/medical device industry. The flexibility of the building both in programmatic function and mechanical systems provides for the rapid fit up or renovation of spaces to accommodate new users. The laboratory module is conservatively established to provide anywhere from 363-square-foot labs with ample bench space to as much as 35,000 square feet of contiguous laboratory space. The wide main corridor and abundantly sized dual purpose service/occupant only elevator allows for secure equipment move-in without impairment to personnel circulation. The routing of utilities overhead rather than in a service corridor maximizes the usable square footage, which in turn reduces lease rates. The functional flexibility of the building can support both the wet and dry sciences, and any given non-support area can be configured as laboratory or office space. The distribution of looped utility, air and exhaust systems can be easily configured or reconfigured to accommodate the high churn rate generally experienced by a facility with this purpose.
While not submitted for certification, the project was designed to meet LEED Silver requirements. Ample fenestration using highly efficient insulated glazing provides ample day lighting of internal spaces, allowing occupants the flexibility to turn off interior lighting should they choose to during bright days. The facility circulates reverse osmosis water for point of use polishing, thereby saving on capital investment of equipment and filtration while allowing a given researcher to polish reverse osmosis water into Ultra Pure Water on an as needed basis. The building’s mechanical systems have been uniquely designed for energy optimization, allowing return air to bypass the cooling coil during designated ambient conditions, providing annual savings of thousands of dollars in utility costs. Additionally, an energy recovery system recaptures exhaust stream energy, which results in up to a 10% reduction in cooling requirements by preconditioning makeup air.
In response to the design team’s Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), the building’s emergency “Failure Mode” design provides for the safety of researchers and other occupants as it shuts down the air handler and chiller and opens pressurization bypass dampers. This allows for the equalization of pressurization within the facility while maintaining exhaust operations powered by the back-up generator. Although control of temperature and humidity are sacrificed during this mode the building continues to provide fresh air to the laboratories, allowing the exhaust hoods to function so that experiments can be safely and efficiently terminated via controlled shut-down by researchers.