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Biomedical Facilities
Thomas Jefferson University - Life Sciences Building

The Bluemle Life Sciences Building is a signature building on the TJU campus, and also in the City of Philadelphia. It has won top awards for poured-in-place concrete and masonry.

The facility was constructed on a tight urban site with buildings flanking two and a half elevations and a subway surface train along a third. A courtyard fountain marks the entrance; a mock-up of lumber and sheet metal panels was constructed to survey water flow before the fountain was installed.

The building houses sophisticated user-specific space, laboratories which required complex systems and utilities installations, meeting rooms, conference areas, executive offices, and administrative support space. Included are a biosafety level-3 (BSL-3) facility and vivarium. Additional spaces include darkrooms, coldrooms, animal holding areas, an autoclave, and glass-washing facility. Labs are equipped with spectrophotometers, centrifuges, scintillation counters, incubators, shakers, and gel imaging systems. The facility also features strictly controlled access/security systems, and redundant management information systems.

One of the major requirements of this project was to produce an absolutely rigid structure, due to the use of sophisticated electron microscopes. We worked closely with the University to examine several approaches and methods of installation that would satisfy the requirements for rigidity, cost, and timeliness. All objectives were met. Despite substantial structural redesign that was necessary as the project was underway, the original project delivery schedule was achieved.

In the field, standards for quality were established and maintained throughout the course of construction. Working with the owner and design team, we were able to balance high expectations for performance with the practical aspects of the working environment, such as traffic flow for people and research animals.

The extensive central mechanical / electrical plant facilities occupies two full floors of the building. Three chillers and cooling towers support the cooling needs of the facility, with state-of-the-art digital control systems to maintain strict environmental conditions for animal spaces, laboratories, and storage areas. Redundant air handling is provided via six large air handlers on two levels, each supported by emergency generators.


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