8C — September 25 - October 15, 2020 — Fall Preview — M id A tlantic Real Estate Journal


C onsulting E ngineering F irm Adapting non-traditional spaces to support research needs Don’t say “no” just yet: When a client approaches you for laboratory space


he year 2020 has pre- sented all of us with many challenges, from

ing located in Old City Phila- delphia. Built in the 1890s, The Curtis was originally occupied

Group. As AKF began the prelimi- nary phase of the project, the

ment. At The Curtis, a former elevator shaft was utilized to route exhaust to the roof. With

piping system. Understanding local codes and ordinances help drive the need of waste treat-

a worldwide pandemic, to social unrest, to economic hardshi ps . Most of us are anxious to put this year in our

by the pub- lishing com- p a n y t h a t p r o d u c e d the Sa tur - day Evening Post and The Ladies Home Journal. As

2020 has changed our lives and the outlook for many years to come. As we look and adapt to the future, demand and funding for Pharma and Biotech companies will be stronger than ever. Because there is a shortage of available research space in most cities, many building owners will be presented with challenges to fill these needs.

Frank Angelini

Paul Shapiro, PE

team focused on several key el- ements to validate the building and then to develop a first class research and laboratory space. Mechanical Cooling/Heating/ Air Systems Understanding the existing system type and capacity is key in evaluating HVAC sys- tems. The Curtis has ample chilled water capacity as well as building steam for envelope heating. The team only had to supplement the interior zones with electric reheat coils. Laboratories generally need more air than any typical office space, and designing additional air handling units can present challenges. Whether it is on the roof, above the ceiling, or in a mechanical room, careful con- sideration is required relative to location, duct routing, pipe routing, noise, and coordina- tion with existing infrastruc- ture. With its high floor-to-floor space, the team was able to locate all new air handling units above the ceilings, even for the main laboratory. Ulti- mately, as long as a building has available roof space, a good structure, and sufficient power, a cooling and ventilation sys- tem can be constructed to suit any laboratory need. Laboratory Exhaust Safety is critical for the occu- pants in a laboratory. Beyond fume hoods, bio safety cabi- nets, and specialty exhaust requirements, almost all labo- ratories are designed to have a “once-through” air system. This results in significant ex - haust requirements. Finding a route in an existing space can be difficult. Ideally, the exhaust can run to an existing shaft and to the roof where a new exhaust fan system can be installed. However, there are times that a new shaft or chase needs to be installed to accommodate this require-

the tremendous roof space available, a new laboratory ex- haust stack was placed at the southwest corner of the build- ing. After agreeing to have the stack painted to match the building’s surrounding colors, the local historic commission was satisfied. Electrical Normal Power Research laboratories re- quire more power than an office building. Depending on the facility, laboratories can draw 7 to 15 watts per square foot. The existing electrical power in a building, or lack of, could be a silent killer. Sub- station arrangement (single or double ended), voltage, and multiple services always factor in during our survey. Reliability is always the first question we ask: what is avail- able and how reliable is it? For most projects, we meet with the local utility company and discuss our options and the reliability of the grid in the surrounding area. Emergency Power Emergency power is a re- quirement in any laboratory of size. Researchers are spend- ing millions of dollars and they cannot afford a power failure. If a building does not have sufficient capacity in its base building emergency power system, a new dedi- cated emergency generator is a likely requirement. These can be either gas or oil-fired, and the building must have a suitable location, typically on the roof or in a basement or grade location. Plumbing and Piping Laboratory Waste Waste treatment and neutral- ization for a research laboratory is extremely important. Most cities and municipalities re- quest protection to ensure noth- ing unsuitable gets discharged into the municipal drainage

ment/central neutralization systems. Maintaining these systems needs to be reviewed depending on the number of sinks and equipment that will be discharged to the sanitary system. The piping specified and installed is equally impor- tant; proper material, routing, and joints is key to the design. Domestic Water Adequate water pressure and flow needs to be reviewed during the design develop- ment stage. Many pieces of equipment have specific pres - sures that must be met. Proper hot water temperatures and isolation valves are also impor- tant. Finally, glass wash and other support spaces have spe- cific temperature needs, and it can be a challenge supporting these spaces with existing infrastructure. 2020 has changed our lives and the outlook for many years to come. As we look and adapt to the future, demand and funding for Pharma and Biotech companies will be stronger than ever. Because there is a shortage of available research space in most cities, many building owners will be presented with challenges to fill these needs. As engineers, we need to understand building infra- structure and have an open mind regarding locating re- search space in existing, non- traditional building supply. Even if a building may not make sense at a first glance, state-of-the-art laboratories are possible with a sensible mix of sound structure and the right investment in new building systems. Frank Angelini is AKF Group’s National Science and Technology Practice leader. Paul Shapiro, PE is a senior project manager at AKF Group. MAREJ

rearview mirrors, and as we look to the future, we see that the real estate market has changed. The ever-increasing demand for commercial office space has slowed, and may reverse. However, the demand for research space, partly in response to the pandemic, shows no signs of slowing. In fact, the need for this space has science tenants looking to existing building supply. The owners of these buildings are interested in what can be done to their existing struc- tures to make them suitable for research use. This global collaboration and fight to stay safe while developing vaccines has all of us working together, not just in research, but as a community. Traditionally, laboratory and life science buildings were constructed in dedicated research campuses as part of a masterplan effort. With the Covid-19 pandemic, things changed in 2020. AKF’s engi- neers are now working with several developers and owners identifying potential buildings to use as research space for various science-focused ten- ants. These buildings were not originally built to support life sciences, but if the character- istics are right, the buildings may be renovated for this purpose. Recently, AKF worked with a tenant searching for space in Center City Philadelphia to construct a new research laboratory and headquarters that also contained space for a future cGMP manufactur- ing laboratory. After visiting buildings throughout the city, including research-ready build- ings in the University City sec- tion of Philadelphia, the com- pany founders determined that they wanted to construct their laboratory in an existing build-

a former printing press, the building has a solid structure, ample power with two sepa- rate electric services, and good floor-to-floor heights, making it attractive for research space. As a bonus, the south and east sides of the building have amazing views of Indepen- dence Hall and Washington Square Park. When our engineers study a building for research , we look for several key elements: roof space, incoming utility servic- es, mechanical room space, air handling unit capacity, chases and shafts, electrical power service arrangement, domestic water capacity and pressure, sanitary stack quantity and location, and natural gas avail- ability. The Curtis has an ex- pansive roof, numerous shafts, two separate power services to the building, and ample chilled water availability. When a client approaches us and wants an evaluation of a building, we can tell pretty quickly if the building has a chance to house a significant laboratory. We realize time is of the essence and our input is crucial for them to evaluate a space and make a financial decision. “The presence of a life sci- ence company within The Cur- tis has validated the historic landmark as a prime location for companies to conduct im- portant research and develop innovative vaccines. The new tenant has paved the way for similar companies that, at- tracted to the building’s infra- structure and location, have also inquired about locating here. AKF’s expertise in build- ing systems and laboratory design played an important role in helping us validate this building for life sciences,” said Jake Fruncillo, leasing director for Keystone Property

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