A biocontainment laboratory is one of the most complex projects to construct. The HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, equipment, casework, and finishes are significantly more complex than in other types of research laboratory facilities. Knowing how to sequence the construction, balance the equipment, and construct “high quality” secondary containment areas is critical to achieving a fully commissioned project. We have built a significant number of these facilities, including the first BSL-4 laboratory in the United States. We have no learning curve, so we can deliver your project more quickly, more cost-effectively, and with a higher level of quality and performance than traditional contractors.

One of the best examples of our ability to deliver biocontainment laboratories in a timely fashion is the Galveston National Laboratory (GNL) for the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The BSL-4 lab took less than seven months to become operational after construction was finished – an extremely short amount of time compared to other BSL-4 facilities around the country, several of which have taken more than a year to be permitted as ready to operate, or have never become operational.

The 7-story, 180,000 SF facility provides flexible, high-level biocontainment laboratory space, from BSL-2, BSL-3, BSL-3E, ABSL-2, ABSL-3, insectaries, to biosafety level 4 (BSL-4), the highest and most secure level of biological containment. All of the building systems are N+1 redundant. In particular, the redundant mechanical systems provide supply and exhaust for all levels of laboratories, in addition to breathing air, back-up breathing air, control air, CO2, liquid nitrogen, and dry nitrogen. The project also included effluent decontamination systems (cookers), an irradiation room, high-containment sterilization, and aerobiology systems.

The GNL supports the National Institutes of Health’s biodefense research agenda. It is one of only two National Biocontainment Laboratories in the country (and the only one with an operational BSL-4) that serves as part of a national biodefense network. It provides research laboratories for the development of therapies, vaccines and diagnostic tests for naturally occurring emerging diseases such as SARS, West Nile encephalitis and avian flu, as well as for microbes that might be employed by terrorists, such as Anthrax. The aim is to support homeland security efforts to protect people against these dreaded diseases. The facility is also capable of supporting public health efforts in the event of a public health emergency.

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“Without the thorough knowledge of complicated research BSL-4 facilities brought by the Vaughn team, there is no doubt that the development of this project would have been much more difficult. I commend your organization for the outstanding work accomplished.”

Reza Hatami, P.E., Senior Resident Construction Manager, University of Texas System