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University of Texas Medical Branch BSL4 Laboratory - Shope Laboratory

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Galveston selected WSP USA as high containment designers and partners to undertake the feasibility study and design of this Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) containment laboratory housing the Department of Pathology and the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Tropical Diseases.

 

WSP USA coordinated the feasibility study, which involved:

  • Reviewing existing building systems and site conditions and assisting UTMB to develop a program defining project objectives and identifying containment parameters.

  • Reviewing operational and equipment needs and developing size and configuration requirements and functional relationships.

  • Addressing environmental impacts relative to scientific risk.

  • Developing alternative design solutions.

  • Preparing site plans, floor plans and building sections.

  • Outlining specifications, project cost estimates and project schedule.

A major challenge was to ensure successful integration of the new highly secure lab with the existing historically designated building, dating to 1881. In addition, and paramount, the building must be safe, secure, and able to withstand the high-force winds in this coastal hurricane zone.

Developing this top-level containment laboratory demands that “safety first” is the top priority both for lab workers and the neighboring community. No compromises are acceptable. The building program calls for a research laboratory and associated support spaces to house equipment, virus collections storage, specialized fumigation equipment and chemical shower rooms for people and equipment as they move in and out of the lab.